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SUCCESS 



THE GREENBACK LIBRARY. 
Paper, is. 6d. net; Cloth, 2s. net. 

1. TWENTY-SIX MEN AND A GIRL. By MAXIM 

GORKY. 

2. EL OMBU. By W. H. HUDSON. 

3. A KING AND His CAMPAIGNERS. By VERNER 

VON HEIDENSTAM. 

4. SUCCESS. By R. B. CUNNINGHAMS GRAHAM. 

Others in the Press. 



R. B. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM 



SUCCESS 



LONDON 

DUCKWORTH & CO., 

3, HENRIETTA STREET, W.C. 

MDCCCCII. 



D 



R 



PRINTED BY R. FOLKARD AND SON, 

22, DEVONSHIRE STREET, QUEEN SQUARE, BLOOMSBURY, 
LONDON, W.C. 



TO 
MY MOTHER 



The author has to thank the editors of the 
"Saturday Review" and "Justice" for permission to 
republish some of the sketches. 



PREFACE. 

IT is not to be thought that gladiators, when 
they advanced before the imperial loggia, with 
their " Ave Casav, te movituri" &c., had any 
great respect or love for the purple-wearing 
critic of their deeds. 

But whatever they may have felt for the em- 
peror himself, it is probable that their feelings 
for the grimacing crowd were definite enough. 
Spanish " espada," Roman gladiator, acrobat, 
actor, politician, author, and even " authoress," 
when they behold, or think of the grinning faces 
of the respectable public, must all be filled with 
feelings of contempt and fear. Contempt of 
those they feel cannot, even badly, perform that 
upon which they have to give a verdict, and 
fear because the verdict (even of unintelligent, 



viii. PREFACE 

or, at the best, of half comprehending men) is 
to them final, and has no appeal. Has no 
appeal, for who but madmen (in a mad world) 
would not a thousand times rather submit him- 
self to Philip drunk, than seek the verdict of 
the same Philip, with the whole folly of his 
unwine-filled brain active and all agog. 

If a man tells you that he has a mystery to 
show, you instantly suspect either a fool or 
knave. In the same way, when the poor 
gymnast in the music-hall, advances clothed in 
trunk hose and tights, and wreathed in smiles, 
to risk his neck, the tender-hearted Christians 
in the stalls and pit all secretly hope something 
untoward may befall. If they did not, those 
who ride bicycles down iron wires, stretched at 
an angle of some thirty-five degrees from the roof, 
into a water tank, would have no vogue. 

So that, bereft of verbiage, that verbiage by 
means of which we put a fig leaf over the 
realities of life, hiding them from our view, 



PREFACE IX. 

although we know that they are there in all 
their natural indecency, the tight-rope dancer, 
gladiator, author, and seller of corn plaisters at 
a fair, look upon those that they grimace before, 
both with contempt and awe. Upon the one 
side, all the performers, whether of bodily or 
mental lofty tumbling, are quite aware of their 
own feelings towards the great gelatinous, but 
yet Olympian entity, who from its depths or 
heights (for depth and height are really all the 
same) surveys their tricks, whether of suppleness 
of joint or mind. 

But now comes in the rub ; the humour, with- 
out which all tragedy is incomplete, especially 
the tragedy of life. The great, good-humoured 
public, secure in its brute strength (and in the 
main good humour comes from sense of power), 
looks on the pigmies who contort themselves 
before it, with benevolency, and though it fails 
to comprehend all that they do, just as a tourist, 
stuck at double price in a " sun" seat, applauds 



X. PREFACE 

a bull-fighter, who by a hair's breadth vaults the 
barrier before the bull, not knowing what he 
does, it still extends its kindly patronage. Who 
that has not been weak, and here (with or with- 
out its leave) I will presume to turn the great 
panjandrum into its component parts, each part 
of which is merely man, having a soul to save 
and a posterior to be kicked, but must have felt 
the horror of benevolency ? 

A tyrant, who as the Spaniards used to say 
of one of their worst kings, is " mucho rey," 
who cuts your head off, and acts as inconsider- 
ately as if he were a God, one can respect, even 
though hating him. But for the tyrant, who 
yet as fickle as is providence, still pats your 
head, what words suffice ? 

I think the monster looks upon us all, oh 
brothers of the show, brush, pen, and forceps, 
paring knife, and soiled silk tights, as wor- 
shippers all bowing down, and praying day and 
night for the proud privilege of adoring their 



PREFACE XI. 

liege lord. Strange that in every act of human 
life one kisses, and the other reaches out the 
cheek. So we in England talk with fond unction 
of America our flesh and blood beyond the 
seas, our cousins, brethren of the Anglo-Saxon 
race, who joined to us could rule the world, we 
roar and write, almost believe, through iteration 
damnable, whilst from the other side, the Yankee 
squirts out tobacco juice, and sticks his tongue 
into his cheek. 

Still, that the feeling of antagonism should 
exist between the writer and the man who reads, 
or between listener and composer, and the 
like, is natural, when it is understood. Write 
but on subjects light as air and trifling in them- 
selves, such as political economy, which in a 
decade becomes antiquated, and is consigned to 
railway lavatories, and perforce all that you 
write, let it be even as commonplace as all 
right-thinking men could wish, is different in 
essence and in form to the ideas of every living 



xii. PREFACE 

man. Thus, as all men are gods unto them- 
selves, bora as is he who writes above the rest 
of all mankind, superior to them in intelligence, 
wit, humour, beauty, and morality (morality 
that makes hypocrites of all men who breathe), 
it follows that another man's ideas cannot be 
made acceptable, without a fight. 

By so much, therefore, as the man who writes, 
composes, paints, or speaks, has anything to 
say, so is the battle with his heaven-sent readers 
and the rest more keen. So the poor book, 
sonata, picture, or what not goes forth like 
" Athanasius contra munduin," and few but will 
admit that Athanasius, even though a saint, 
cannot but have looked out upon the world 
with feelings partly of terror, partly of dislike. 
Let but the creed be once accepted, and for all 
I know, the case is changed; but when that 
happens all the interest of the fight is gone, and 
the poor writer, painter, or what not, either 
sinks into the Nirvana of neglect, or, worse, 



PREFACE Xlll. 

becomes a classic, and in tree calf, well tooled, 
and with gilt edges, serves as a resting place for 
flies in scholars' libraries. 

So, be the upshot of the unequal struggle 
what it may, the real victory is as usual to 
the big battalions, and what remains to writer, 
painter, or to acrobat, is but to wipe the saw- 
dust from his hair, and try again. But as he 
wipes, let him by all means clear,* if possible, 
the cobwebs from his mind, and view the ques- 
tion as it really is, making himself no spiced 
conscience, as to the very real antagonism 
betwixt himself and those who may (by accident) 
chance to peruse his book. 

As for myself, I sit in a neglected orange gar- 
den, in which all day the doves coo in the trees, 
and water murmurs in cemented rills ; in which 
the grass grows long and lush, making an ever- 
glade in miniature, through which cats (loved of 
Mohammed) steal like tigers, and over which 
a stork sits sentinel, calling to prayers, in the 



XIV. PREFACE 

true way, at intervals, and when he feels in- 
clined. 

I sit and write this preface, to my slight tales, 
not seeking to turn off your criticism, but re- 
membering that in the amphitheatre, when the 
"respectable" turned down its thumb, it could 
take away the gladiator's life, but still, for all 
its power and its might, could not prevent the 
dying man from turning up his eyes, and smiling 
as he passed. 

R. B. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM. 

Fez, ist July, 1902. 



CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Preface vii. 

Success - I 

*The Gualichu Tree 10 

/ 

Los Seguidores 20 

Un Infeliz 40 

From the Mouth of the Sahara ... - 55 

At Utrera 71 

Might, Majesty, and Dominion - - - - 81 

/. Sursum Corda - 86 

The Pyramid 100 

Terror 109 

v Postponed 116 

London -'- 129 

Beattock for Moffat 139 

A Fisherman - 155 

The Impenitent Thief 169 

The Evolution of a Village 177 

Castles in the Air 187 



" Hoot awa? lads, hoot awa\ 
Ha* ye heard how the Ridleys and Thirwalls and a' 
Ha' set upon Albany Featherstonhaugh, 
And taken his life at the Deidman's haugh. 
Hoot awa 1 lads, hoot awa\" 

BORDER MINSTRELSY. 



SUCCESS. 

SUCCESS, which touches nothing that it does not 
vulgarise, should be its own reward. In fact, 
rewards of any kind are but vulgarities. 

We applaud successful folk, and straight for- 
get them, as we do ballet-dancers, actors, and 
orators. They strut their little hour, and then 
are relegated to peerages, to baronetcies, to 
books of landed gentry, and the like. 

Quick triumphs make short public memories. 
Triumph itself only endures the time the trium- 
phal car sways through the street. Your nine 
days' wonder is a sort of five-legged calf, or a 
two-headed nightingale, and of the nature of a 
calculating boy a seven months' prodigy, born 
out of time to his own undoing and a mere won- 
derment for gaping dullards who dislocate their 
jaws in ecstasy of admiration and then start out 
to seek new idols to adore. We feel, that after 
all the successful man is fortune's wanton, and 

B 



2 SUCCESS 

that good luck and he have but been equal to 
two common men. Poverty, many can endure 
with dignity. Success, how few can carry off, 
even with decency and without baring their 
innermost infirmities before the public gaze ! 

Caricatures in bronze and marble, and titles 
made ridiculous by their exotic style we shower 
upon all those who have succeeded, in war, in 
literature, or art ; we give them money, and for 
a season no African Lucullus in Park Lane can 
dine without them. Then having given, feel 
that we have paid for service rendered, and 
generally withhold respect. 

For those who fail, for those who have sunk 
still battling beneath the muddy waves of life, 
we keep our love, and that curiosity about their 
lives which makes their memories green when 
the cheap gold is dusted over, which once we 
gave success. 

How few successful men are interesting ! 
Hannibal, Alcibiades,with Raleigh, Mithridates, 
and Napoleon, who would compare them for a 
moment with their mere conquerors ? 

The unlucky Stuarts, from the first poet king 
slain at the ball play, to the poor mildewed Car- 
dinal of York, with all their faults, they leave 



SUCCESS 3 

the stolid Georges millions of miles behind, sunk 
in their pudding and prosperity. The prosper- 
ous Elizabeth, after a life of honours unwillingly 
surrendering her cosmetics up to death in a state 
bed, and Mary laying her head upon the block 
at Fotheringay after the nine and forty years of 
failure of her life (failure except of love), how 
many million miles, unfathomable seas, and 
sierras upon sierras separate them ? 

And so of nations, causes, and events. Nations 
there are as interesting in decadence, as others 
in their ten-percentish apogee are dull and 
commonplace. Causes, lost almost from the 
beginning of the world, but hardly yet despaired 
of, as the long struggle betwixt rich and poor, 
which dullards think eternal, but which will one 
day be resolved, either by the absorption of the 
rich into the legions of the poor, or vice versa, 
still remain interesting, and will do so whilst the 
unequal combat yet endures. 

Causes gone out of vogue, which have become 
almost as ludicrous as is a hat from Paris of ten 
years ago ; causes which hang in monumental 
mockery quite out of fashion, as that of Poland, 
still are more interesting than is the struggle 
between the English and the Germans, which 

93 



4 SUCCESS 

shall sell gin and gunpowder to negroes on the 
Coast. 

Even events long passed, and which right- 
thinking men have years ago dismissed to gather 
dust in the waste spaces of their minds, may in- 
terest or repel according as they may make for 
failure or success. 

Failure alone can interest speculative minds. 
Success is for the millions of the working world, 
who see the engine in eight hours arrive in Edin- 
burgh from London, and marvel at the last im- 
provement in its wheels. The real interest in 
the matters being the forgotten efforts of some 
alchemist who, with the majesty of law ever 
awake to burn him as a witch, with the hoarse 
laughter of the practical and business men still 
ringing in his ears, made his rude model of a 
steam engine, and perhaps lost his eyesight 
when it burst. 

On a deserted beach in Cuba, not far from El 
Caney, some travellers not long ago came on a 
skeleton. Seated in a rough chair, it sat and 
gazed upon the sea. The gulls had roosted on 
the collar bones, and round the feet sea-wrack 
and dulse had formed a sort of wreath. A 
tattered Spanish uniform still fluttered from the 



SUCCESS 5 

bones, and a cigar-box set beside the chair held 
papers showing that the man had been an officer 
of rank. One of these gave the password of the 
day when he had lost his life, and as the travel- 
lers gazed upon the bones, a land crab peeped 
out of a hole just underneath the chair. 

All up and down the coast were strewn the 
remnants of the pomp and circumstance of 
glorious war. Rifles with rusty barrels, the 
stocks set thick with barnacles, steel scabbards 
with bent swords wasted to scrap iron, frag- 
ment of uniforms and belts, ends of brass chains 
and bones of horses reft from their wind-swept 
prairies to undergo the agonies of transport in a 
ship, packed close as sardines in a box, and then 
left to die wounded with the vultures picking 
out their eyes. All, all, was there, fairly spread 
out as in a kindergarten, to point the lesson to 
the fools who write of war, if they had wit to 
see. Gun carriages half silted up with sand, 
and rusted broken Maxims, gave an air of ruin, 
as is the case wherever Titan man has been at 
play, broken his toys, and then set out to kill 
his brother fools. 

Withal nothing of dignity about the scene ; a 
stage unskilfully set out with properties all got 



6 SUCCESS 

up on the cheap ; even the ribs and trucks of the 
decaying ships of what once had been Admiral 
Cervera's fleet stood roasting in the sun, their 
port-holes just awash, as they once roasted in 
the flames which burned them and their crews. 
Nothing but desolation, in the scene, and yet a 
desolation of a paltry kind, not caused by time, 
by famine, pestilence, or anything which could 
impart an air of tragedy, only the desolation 
made by those who had respectively sent their 
poor helots out to fight, staying themselves 
smug and secure at home, well within reach of 
the quotations of the Stock Exchange. 

So in his mouldering chair the general sat, his 
pass- word antiquated and become as much the 
property of the first passer-by as an advertise- 
ment of " liver pills." His uniform, no doubt 
his pride, all rags ; his sword (bought at some 
outfitter's) long stolen away and sold for drink 
by him who filched it ; but yet the sun-dried 
bones, which once had been a man, were of them- 
selves more interesting than were his living 
conquerors with their cheap air of insincere 
success. 

The world goes out to greet the conqueror 
with flowers and with shouts, but first he has to 



SUCCESS 7 

conquer, and so draw down upon himself the 
acclamations of the crowd, who do not know 
that hundreds such as the man they stultify with 
noise have gloriously failed, and that the odium 
of success is hard enough to bear, without the 
added ignominy of popular applause. Who with 
a spark of humour in his soul can bear success 
without some irritation in his mind ? But for 
good luck he might have been one of the shouters 
who run sweating by his car ; doubts must assail 
him, if success has not already made him pachy- 
dermatous to praise, that sublimate which wears 
away the angles of our self-respect, and leaves 
us smooth to catch the mud our fellows fling at 
us, in their fond adoration of accomplished facts. 
Success is but the recognition (chiefly by your- 
self) that you are better than your fellows are. 
A paltry feeling, nearly allied to the base scheme 
of punishments and of rewards which has made 
most faiths arid, and rendered actions noble in 
themselves mere huckstering affairs of fire insur- 
ance. 

If a man put his life in peril for the Victoria 
Cross, or pass laborious days in laboratories 
tormenting dogs, only to be a baronet at last, a 
plague of courage and laborious days. Arts, 



8 SUCCESS 

sciences, and literature, with all the other trifles 
in which hard-working idle men make occupa- 
tions for themselves, when they lead to material 
success, spoil their professor, and degrade them- 
selves to piecework at so many pounds an hour. 

Nothing can stand against success and yet 
keep fresh. Nations as well as individuals feel 
its vulgarising power. Throughout all Europe, 
Spain alone still rears its head, the unspoiled 
race, content in philosophic guise to fail in all 
she does, and thus preserve the individual inde- 
pendence of her sons. Successful nations have 
to be content with their success, their citizens 
cannot be interesting. So many hundred feet of 
sanitary tubes a minute or an hour, so many 
wage-saving applications of machinery, so many 
men grown rich ; fancy a poet rich through 
rhyming, or a philosopher choked in banknotes, 
whilst writing his last scheme of wise philosophy. 
Yet those who fail, no matter how ingloriously, 
have their revenge on the successful few, by 
having kept themselves free from vulgarity, or 
by having died unknown. 

A miner choked with firedamp in a pit, dead 
in the vain attempt to save some beer-mused 
comrade left behind entombed, cannot be vulgar, 



SUCCESS 9 

even if when alive he was a thief. Your crass 
successful man who has his statue set up in our 
streets (apparently to scare away the crows), and 
when he dies his column and a half in penny 
cyclopaedias, turns interest to ashes by his 
apotheosis in the vulgar eye. 

But the forgotten general sitting in his chair, 
his fleshless feet just lapping in the waves, his 
whitening bones fast mouldering into dust, no- 
thing can vulgarise him ; no fool will crown him 
with a tin-foiled laurel wreath, no poetaster sing 
his praise in maudlin ode or halting threnody, 
for he has passed into the realm of those who by 
misfortune claim the sympathy of writers who 
are dumb. 

Let him sit on and rest, looking out on the 
sea, where his last vision saw the loss of his 
doomed country's fleet. 

An architype of those who fail, let him still 
sit watching the gulls fly screaming through the 
air, and mark the fish spring and fall back again 
with a loud crash, in the still waters of the tropic 
beach. 



THE GUALICHU TREE. 

JUST where the Sierra de la Ventana fades out 
of sight, a mere blue haze on the horizon ; close 
to the second well in the long desert travesia 
between El Carmen and Bahia Blanca, upon a 
stony ridge from which to the north the brown 
interminable Pampa waves a sea of grass, and 
to the south the wind-swept Patagonian stone- 
strewed steppes stretch to the Rio Negro, all 
alone it stands. No other tree for leagues 
around rises above the sun-browned, frost-nipped 
grass, and the low scrub of thorny carmamoel 
and elicui. An altar, as some think, to the 
Gualichu, the evil spirit, which in the theogony 
of the wandering Indian tribes has so far hither- 
to prevailed over the other demon who rules 
over good, that all the sacrifices which they 
make, fall to his lot. An espinillo, some have 
it ; a tala, or a chanar, as others say ; low, 
gnarled, and bent to the north-east by the con- 



THE GUALICHU TREE 11 

tinual swirl of the Pampero which rages on the 
southern plains, the tree, by its position and its 
growth, is formed to have appealed at once to 
the imagination of the Indian tribes. Certain 
it is that in the days before the modern rifle 
slew them so cowardly (the slayers, safe from 
the weak assaults of lance and bolas by the 
distance of their weapons' range, and rendered 
as maleficent as Gods, by the toil of men in 
Liege or Birmingham, who at the same time 
forged their own fetters, and helped unknowingly 
to slay men they had never seen), no Araucanian, 
Pampa, Pehuelche, or Ranquele passed the 
Gualichu Tree, without his offering. Thus did 
they testify by works to their belief both in its 
power, its majesty, and might. 

The Gauchos used to say the tree was the 
Gualichu incarnated. They being Christians 
by the grace of God, and by the virtue of some 
drops of Spanish blood, spoke of the Indians as 
idolators. The Indians had no idols, and the 
Gauchos now and then a picture of a saint hung 
on the walls of their low reed-thatched huts, to 
which a mare's hide used to serve as door. So 
of the two, the Gauchos really were greater 
idolators than their wild cousins, whom they 



12 THE GUALICHU TREE 

thus contemned, as Catholics and Protestants 
condemn each other, secure in the possession of 
their church and book, and both convinced the 
other must be damned. 

So all the Gauchos firmly held the Indians 
thought the Tree a God, not knowing that they 
worshipped two great spirits, one ruling over 
good, and the more powerful over evil, as is 
natural to all those who manufacture creeds. 

Before a Gaucho passed below the mountains 
of Tandil, the Jesuits knew the tribes, and 
Father Falkner has written of the faiths of the 
Pehuelches and the other tribes who roamed 
from Cholechel to Santa Cruz, round the Salinas 
Grandes, about the lake of Nahuel-Huapi, and in 
the apple forests which fringe the Andes on their 
southern spurs. 

Of all the mountains which faith can, but 
hitherto has not attempted, to remove, the mon- 
strous cordillera of misconception of other men's 
beliefs is still the highest upon earth. So, to the 
Gauchos, and the runagates (forged absolutely 
on their own anvils), who used to constitute the 
civilising scum which floats before the flood of 
progress in the waste spaces of the world, the 
Gualichu Tree was held an object half of terror, 



THE GUALICHU TREE 13 

half of veneration, not to be lightly spoken of 
except when drunk, or when ten or a dozen of 
them being together it was not worthy of a man 
to show his fear. 

Among the Indians, and in the estimation of 
all those who knew them well, the Tree was but 
an altar on which they placed their free-will 
offerings of things which, useless to themselves, 
might, taking into account the difference of his 
nature from their own, find acceptation, and be 
treasured by a God. 

So fluttering in the breeze it stood, a sort of 
everlasting Christmas tree, decked out with 
broken bridles, stirrups, old tin cans, pieces of 
worn-out ponchos, bolas, lance-heads, and skins 
of animals, by worshippers to whom the name 
of Christian meant robber, murderer, and in- 
truder on their lands. No Indian ever passed 
it without suspending something to its thorny 
boughs, for the Gualichu, by reason of his om- 
nipotent malevolence, was worth propitiating, 
although he did not seem to show any particular 
discernment as to the quality of the offerings 
which his faithful tied upon his shrine. Around 
the lone and wind-swept Tree, with its quaint 
fruit, has many a band of Indians camped, 



14 THE GUALICHU TREE 

their lances, twenty feet in length, stuck in the 
ground, their horses hobbled and jumping stiffly 
as they strayed about to eat, what time their 
masters slew a mare, and ate the half-raw flesh, 
pouring the blood as a libation on the ground, 
their wizards (as Father Falkner relates) dancing 
and beating a hide-drum until they fell into the 
trance in which the Gualichu visited them, and 
put into their minds that which the Indians 
wished that he should say. 

The earliest travellers in the southern plains 
describe the Tree as it still stood but twenty 
years ago ; it seemed to strike them but as an 
evidence of the lowness of the Indians in the 
human scale. Whether it was so, or if a tree 
which rears its head alone in a vast stony plain, 
the only upright object in the horizon for leagues 
on every side, is not a fitting thing to worship, 
or to imagine that a powerful spirit has his 
habitation in it, I leave to missionaries, to 
" scientists," and to all those who, knowing little, 
are sure that savages know nothing, and view 
their faith as of a different nature from their own. 
But, after all, faith is not absolutely the sole 
quality which goes to make belief. No doubt 
the Indians saw in the Tree the incarnation of 



THE GUALICHU TREE 1 5 

he spirit of their race, in all its loneliness and 
isolation from any other type f man. Into the 
Tree there must have entered in some mysterious 
way the spirit of their own long fight with nature, 
the sadness of the Pampa, with its wild noises 
of the night ; its silent animals, as the guanaco, 
ostrich, mataco, the quiriquincho, and the Pata- 
gonian hare ; its flights of red flamingoes ; the 
horses wild as antelopes, and shyer than any 
animal on earth ; the rustle of the pampas grass 
upon the watercourses, in which the pumas and 
the jaguars lurk ; the birth of spring covering the 
ground with red verbena, and the dark leaden- 
looking grass which grows on the guadal ; the 
giant bones of long-extinct strange animals which 
in some places strew the ground ; all the lone 
magic of the summer's days, when the light 
trembles, and from every stem of grass the 
fleecy particles, which the north wind blows, 
tremble and quake, whilst over all the sun beats 
down, the universal god worshipped from Cali- 
fornia to Punta Arenas by every section of their 
race. 

To Christians too the tree had memories, but 
chiefly as a landmark, though few of them, half 
|p derision, half in the kindliness which comes 



1 6 THE GUALICHU TREE 

of long communication (even with enemies) who 
would pass without an offering of an empty 
match-box, a dirty pocket-handkerchief, a brim- 
less hat, or empty sardine tin something, in 
short, to bring the beauty of our culture and our 
arts home to the Indians' minds. One Christian 
at least had offered up his life beneath its boughs 
an ostrich hunter, who, finding ostriches grow 
scarce, the price of ostrich feathers fall, or being 
possessed with a strange wish for regular, dull 
work, had hired himself to carry mail bags 
from Bahia Blanca to Carmen de Patagones, the 
furthest settlement in those days, towards the 
south. As all the country which he travelled 
was exposed to Indian raids, and as he generally, 
when chased, had to throw off his saddle and 
escape barebacked (" en pelo", as the Gauchos 
say), by degrees he found it too expensive to 
make good the saddles he had lost. So all the 
eighty leagues he used to ride " en pelo", use 
having made him part and parcel of his horse. 
An ostrich hunter from his youth up, aware 
one day that he would die the ostrich hunter's 
death, by hunger, thirst, or by an Indian's lance, 
well did he know the great green inland sea of 
grass in which men used to sleep with their 



THE GUALICHU Tfcfcfc 1 7 

faces set towards the way they had to go, know- 
ing that he who lost the trail had forfeited his 
life, unless by a hard, lucky chance he reached an 
Indian tolderia, there to become a slave. Well 
did the ex-ostrich hunter know the desert lore, 
to take in everything instinctively as he galloped 
on the plain, to mark the flight of birds, heed 
distant smoke, whether the deer or other animals 
were shy or tame, to keep the wind ever a- 
blowing on the same side of his face, at night to 
ride towards some star ; but yet it fell upon a 
day, between the first well and the Rio Colorado, 
his horse tired with him, and as his trail showed 
afterwards, he had to lead it to the second well, 
which he found dry. Then after long hours of 
thirst, he must have sighted the Gualichu Tree, 
and made for it, hoping to find some travellers 
with water skins ; reached it, and, having hung 
his mail bags on it to keep them safe, wandered 
about and waited for relief. Then, his last 
cigarette smoked and thrown aside (where the 
belated rescuers found it on the grass), he had 
sat down stoically to meet the ostrich hunter's 
fate. A league or two along the trail his horse 
had struggled on, making for the water which he 
k new must be in the river Colorado, and like his 

c 



1 8 THE GUALICHU TREE 

master, having done his best, died in the circle 
of brown withered grass which the last dying 
struggle of an animal upon the Pampa makes. 

Landmark to wandering Gauchos, altar or God 
to all the Indian tribes, a curiosity of nature to 
"scientists," who, like Darwin, may camp beneath 
its boughs, and to the humourist looking half 
sadly through his humour at the world, a thorny 
Christmas tree, but scarce redeemed from being 
quite grotesque, when, amongst its heterogeneous 
fruit, it chanced to bear a human hand, a foot, 
or a long tress or two of blue-black hair, torn 
from some captive Christian woman's head, long 
may it stand. 

You in the future who, starting from Bahia 
Blanca pass the Romero Grande, leave the 
Cabeza del Buey on the right hand, and at the 
Rio Colorado exchange the grassy Pampa for 
the stony southern plains, may you find water 
in both wells, and coming to the tree neither cut 
branches from it to light your fire, or fasten 
horses to its trunk to rub the bark. Remember 
that it has been cathedral, church, town-hall, 
and centre of a religion and the lives of men now 
passed away ; and, in remembering, reflect that 
from Bahia Blanca to El Carmen, it was once 



THE GUALICHU TREE 19 

the solitary living thing which reared its head 
above the grass and the low thorny scrub. So 
let it stand upon its stony ridge, just where the 
Sierra de la Ventana fades out of sight, hard by 
the second well, right in the middle of the 
travesia a solitary natural landmark if naught 
else, which once bore fruit ripened in the 
imaginations of a wild race of men, who at the 
least had for their virtue constancy of faith, not 
shaken by unanswered prayer ; a tombstone, set 
up by accident or nature, to mark the passing of 
light riding bands upon their journey towards 
Trapalanda ; passing or passed ; but all so 
silently, that their unshod horses' feet have 
scarcely left a trail upon the grass. 



c 2 



LOS SEGUIDORES. 

ONLY the intimate life of man with the domestic 
animals which takes place upon the pampas of 
the River Plate could have produced " Los 
Seguidores." 

Brothers, or trained to be as brothers by being 
tied together by the neck till they had conquered 
the repugnance which every animal, including 
man, has for his fellow, this was the name the 
Gauchos gave two horses which to their owner 
were as one. The followers (los seguidores) on 
the darkest night trotted along, the loose horse 
following the mounted brother, as it had 
been a shadow on the grass. At night, when one 
was picketed to feed, the other pastured round 
about him like a satellite, and in the morning 
sometimes the two were found either asleep or 
resting with their heads upon each others' 
necks. When saddled for a march, the owner 
mounting never even turned his head to look, so 



LOS SEGUIDORES 21 

sure he was that the loose horse would follow on 
his trail. Even in crossing rivers, after the first 
deep plunge which takes the rider to his neck, 
one swam behind the other, spurting out water 
like a whale, or biting at the quarters of the 
ridden horse, and on emerging, both of them 
shook themselves like water dogs, and the 
unmounted follower patiently waited for the 
start, and then after a plunge or two, to shake 
the water from his coat, trotting along contentedly 
behind his brother, on the plain. 

Such a pair I knew, the property of one Cruz 
Cabrera, a Gaucho living close to the little river 
Mocoreta which separates the province of Entre 
Rios from that of Corrientes, to the north. Both 
horses were picazos, that is, black with white 
noses, and so like each other that it was a saying 
in the district where he lived, "Like, yes, as like 
as are the two picazos which Cruz Cabrera 
rides." In a mud rancho, bare of furniture save 
for a horse's head or two to sit upon, an iron spit 
stuck in the floor, a kettle, a bed, made scissors- 
wise of some hard wood with a lacing of raw 
hide thongs, an ox's horn in which he kept his 
salt, and a few pegs on which he hung his silver 
reins and patent leather boots with an eagle 



22 LOS SEGUIDORES 

worked in red thread upon the legs, the owner of 
the seguidores lived. A mare's hide formed the 
door, and in a corner a saddle and a poncho lay, 
a pair or two of bolas, and some lazos ; raw hide 
bridles hung from the rafters, whilst in the 
thatch was stuck a knife or two, some pairs of 
sheep shears and a spare iron spit. Outside his 
rancho fed a flock of long-haired, long-legged 
sheep resembling goats, two or three hundred 
head of cattle, and some fifty mares, from which 
the celebrated seguidores had been bred. 

His brother Froilan lived with him, and 
though only a year separated them in age, oceans 
and continents were set between them in all the 
essential qualities which go to make a man. 

The elder brother was a quiet man ; hard 
working too, when he had horses on which to 
work, and peaceable when no one came across 
his path, and when at the neighbouring pul- 
peria he had not too incautiously indulged in 
square-faced gin (Albert Von Hoytema, the 
Palm Tree brand), on which occasions he was 
wont to forget his ordinary prudence, and become 
as the profane. But, in the main, an honour- 1 
able, hard -riding man enough, not much! 
addicted to brand his neighbour's cows, to stealj 



LOS SEGUIDORES 23 

their horses, or to meddle with their wives, even 
when military service or the exigencies of 
ordinary Gaucho life called men out on the 
frontier, or made them seek the shelter of the 
woods. 

Froilan never in all his life had done what 
is called honest work. No cow, no horse, no 
sheep, still less a "China" girl, ever escaped 
him ; withal, a well-built long-haired knave 
before the Lord, riding a half- wild horse as if 
the two had issued from the womb together as 
one flesh. A great guitar player, and what is 
called a " payador " that is, a rhymester for, 
as the Gauchos say, " The townsman sings, and 
is a poet, but when the Gaucho sings he is a 
payador." A lovable and quite irresponsible 
case for an immortal soul, about the possession 
or the future state of which he never troubled 
himself, saying, after the fashion of his kind, 
" God cannot possibly be a bad man," and thus 
having made, as it were, a full profession of his 
faith, esteeming it unworthy of a believing man 
to trouble further in so manifest a thing. 

In fact, a pagan of the type of those who lived 
their lives in peace, content with nature as they 
found her, in the blithe days before Moham- 



24 LOS SEGUIDORES 

medanism and Christianity, and their mad myriad 
sects, loomed on the world and made men 
miserable, forcing them back upon themselves, 
making them introspective, and causing them to 
lose their time in thinking upon things which 
neither they nor anyone in the ridiculous 
revolving world can ever solve, and losing thus 
the enjoyment of the sun, the silent satisfaction 
of listening to the storm, and all the joys which 
stir the natural man when the light breeze blows 
on his cheek as his horse gallops on the plain. 

But still the neighbours (for even on the 
pampa man cannot live alone, although he does 
his best to separate his dwelling from that of 
his loved fellow human beings) preferred Froilan 
before his elder brother, Cruz. Their respect, 
as is most natural, for respect is near akin to 
fear, and fear is always uppermost in the mind 
towards those who have a severer code of life 
than we ourselves (and hatred ever steps upon 
its heels), was given to Don Cruz. He was a 
serious man and formal, complying outwardly 
with all the forms that they themselves were 
disregardful of, and so religious that it was said, 
once in Concordia he had even gone to mass 
after a drinking bout. But as the flesh is weak 



LOS SEGUIDORES 25 

as is but just when one reflects upon the 
providential scheme, for without its weakness 
where would the due amount of credit be 
apportioned to the Creator of mankind Cruz 
would when all was safe fall into some of the 
weaknesses his brother suffered from, but in so 
carefully concealed and hidden fashion that the 
said weaknesses in him, seemed strength. Still 
the two brothers loved one another after the 
fashion of men who, living amongst unconquered 
nature, think first of their daily battle with a 
superior force, and have but little leisure for 
domestic ties. Love, hate, attachment to the 
animals amongst whom they lived, and perhaps 
a vague unreasoned feeling of the beauty of 
the lonely plains and exultation in the free life 
they led, were the chief springs which moved 
the brothers' lives. 

The elementary passions, which moved the 
other animals, and which, though we so strenu- 
ously deny their strength, move all of us, de- 
spite of our attempts to bury them beneath 
the pseudo duties and the unnecessary neces- 
sities of modern life, acted there directly, making 
them relatively honest in their worst actions, 
in a way we cannot understand at all, in our 



26 IOS SEGUIDORES 

more complicated life. With the two brothers 
afl veal weft, as k so often does with those 
who, neither honest nor dishonest, yet keep 
a foot in either camp, and are < Jiimffd as 
by t***9*r in office, and are 



respected by dishonest men as having just 

r z : _ : -. .-:-- . : i ~ : 7 : : : _ i : : 
~::ks izi Zr:.i~ zz_::r..ec 
~ - ^ z r ~. j i . ^ . r 

rr *ZT TrcZ 7-1Z7 T'Z -lil" rS 

the green corn, die patch of maize which Cms 
grew, partly for an occasional dish of "maza- 

dnly reaped by the aid of a Basque or a Canary 

""^~~"~1 ~ 1 _^ r '~ ~^jC& OnOnflSDHF iFO^fl 

theroofofalongstzaw-thatched shed. Before 

r. -7-:z ~ '.:-: ii|'i :: e" e~ ye^r s*::c 
i Utstamd 




of a 



LOS SEGUIDORES 2J 

The "seguidores," the greatest objects of the 
brothers' love, were black as jet, with their off 
fore and the off hind feet white, so that the rider, 
riding on a cross, was safe from the assaults of 
evil fiends by night, and from ill luck which 
makes its presence felt at every moment when 
the Christian thinks himself secure. Both of 
the horses were so round you could have counted 
money on their backs ; their tails just touched 
their pasterns, and were cut off square ; their 
noses both were blazed with white, and in 
addition one had a faint white star upon his 
forehead, and the other one or two girth marks 
which had left white hairs upon his flank. Both 
had their manes well hogged, save for a mount- 
ing lock, and on the top of the smooth arch made 
by the cut-off hair, castles and crosses were 
ingeniously cut, giving them both the appearance 
of having been designed after the pattern of the 
knight at chess. Both horses were rather quick 
to mount, not liking to be kept a moment when 
the foot was in the stirrup iron, and both of them, 
well trained to lazo work, could keep a strain 
upon the rope when once a bull was caught, so 
that their master could get off and, creeping up 
behind, despatch the animal, thus lassoed, with 



28 LOS SEGUIDORES 

a knife. Rather straight on the pasterns, and a 
little heavy in the shoulder, they could turn, 
when galloping, in their own length, their unshod 
feet cutting the turf as a sharp skate cuts ice 
when a swift skater turns at topmost speed. 
Full-eyed, flat-jointed, their nostrils red and 
open, their coats as soft as satin, and their gallop 
easy as an iceboat's rush before the wind, the 
two picazos were as good specimens of their 
race as any of the breed between Los Ballesteros 
and the Gualeguay, or from San Fructuoso to 
the mountains of Tandil. 

In the mud-reed-thatched hut, or to be accu- 
rate, in another hut beside it, dwelt the mother 
of the two brothers and their half-sister Luz. 
The mother, dried by the sun and cured by the 
smoke of sixty years (which blackened all the 
thatch, polishing it as it had been japanned), loved 
her two sons in the submissive fashion in which 
a mare may love her colts when they are grown 
to their full strength. Seated upon a horse's 
head, she watched the meat roast on a spit, 
boiled water for the perpetual mate, and seldom 
went outside the house. A Christian, if simple 
faith, convinced of all things hard to believe and 
quite impossible to understand} can make one 



LOS SEGUIDORES 2Q 

such, she was. Although the nearest church 
was twenty leagues away, and in her life she 
had been but a few times there, she knew the 
dogmas of her faith to the full as well as if com- 
munion with the church and the free use of 
books had placed hell fire always in her view. 
Octaves, novenas, and the rest she never missed, 
and on the rare occasions when some neighbour- 
ing women rode over to take mate and eat maza- 
morra with her, she acted as a sort of fugle- 
woman, leading the hymns and prayers out of a 
tattered book, which, in times past, she had 
partly learned to read. Outside religion, she 
was as strict in her materialism as the other 
women of her race, making herself no spiced 
conscience about any subject upon earth. From 
her youth upwards she had seen blood shed as 
easily as water; had seen the uncomplaining 
agony of the animals under the knife, observing 
" pobrecito " when a lamb's throat was slowly 
cut, and then (being a Christian, and thus of a 
different flesh to that of beasts) hurrying up 
quickly to assist in taking off its skin. Like 
most of us, of her own impulse she was pitiful, 
but yet not strong enough to stand against the 
universal cruelty which habit has rendered 



30 LOS SEGUIDORES 

second nature to the most tender-hearted and the 
kindest of mankind. Spanish and Indian blood 
had made her look at things without the veil, 
which northern melancholy has cast over them, 
and thus she clearly looked at all, without hypo- 
crisy, just as she saw the locusts moving in a 
cloud, the dust storms whirling in the air, and all 
the other wild phenomena of life upon the plains. 
She saw the human beast in all his animalism, 
and thought it no disgrace to admit that in essen- 
tials all his actions sprang from the motives which 
influenced all the other links in the same chain of 
which she formed a part. Seeing so clearly, she 
saw that Luz, although their sister, was an object 
of desire to both her brothers, and the old woman 
knew that fire and tow are safe to make a blaze 
if they are brought too close. Much did she muse 
upon the problem, muttering to herself proverbs 
which spoke of the necessity of a stone wall 
between a male and female saint, and she re- 
solved to keep Luz from her brothers as far as it 
was possible within the narrow limits of the hut. 
The girl herself, like many " Chinas "* when just 



* China is the term applied to the Gaucho girls of Indian 
blood. It is also used in Peru and the Habana, why, no one 
seems to know. 



LOS SEGUIDORES 3! 

grown up, was pretty, and attractive as a young 
deer or colt may be attractive, by its inexperience 
and youth. In colour, something like a ripe bam- 
boo, with a faint flush of pink showing through 
upon the cheeks and palms ; round faced, and 
dark eyed, dressed in a gay print gown made 
loose, and round her neck a coloured handker- 
chief, Luz was as pretty as a girl upon the pam- 
pas ever is, for being semi-civilised and Chris- 
tain she lacked the graces of a half-clothed Indian 
maid, and yet had not resources which in a 
town make many a girl, designed by nature to 
scrub floors and suckle fools, a goddess in the 
eyes of those who think a stick well dressed is 
more desirable than Venus rising naked from 
the foam. 

She, too, having seen from youth the tragedy 
of animal birth, love, and death displayed before 
her eyes, was not exactly innocent ; but yet, 
having no standard of false shame to measure by, 
was at the same time outspoken upon things 
which in Europe old women of both sexes feign 
to be reticent about, and still was timid by the 
very virtue of the knowledge which she had. 
The life of women on the pampa, or, for that 
matter, in all wild countries, is of necessity much 



32 LOS SEGUIDORES 

more circumscribed than that of those their 
sisters who in other lands approach more nearly 
to their more godlike brothers by the fact of 
wearing stiffly starched collars and most of the 
insignia of man's estate. Philosophers have set 
it down that what is known as sexual morality 
is a sealed book to women, and that, whilst out- 
wardly conforming, most of them rage inwardly 
at the restrictions which men, to guard their 
property, have set upon their lives. This may 
be so, for who can read what passes in the heart 
of any other man, even if he has felt its closest 
beat for years ? And it may well be that the 
most Puritan of happy England's wives chafe 
at the liberty their husbands all enjoy, and 
from which they, bound in their petticoats, 
stays, flounces, furbelows, veils, bonnets, gar- 
ters, and their Paisley shawls, are impiously 
debarred. 

But speculations upon sex problems did not 
greatly trouble Luz, who, when she thought, 
thought chiefly of the chance of going into 
town, buying new clothes, attending mass, and 
meeting her few friends, and so it never came 
into her head but that her two half-brothers, 
both of them far older than herself, regarded 



LOS SEGUIDORES 33 

her but as their sister and a child. Some say 
the heart of man is wicked from his birth, and 
so it may be to those men who, reading in their 
own, see naught but mud. But if it is so, then 
either the framer of man's heart worked on a 
faulty plan, or those who furbish for us codes of 
morality, have missed his meaning and misunder- 
stood his scheme. As the brothers never thought, 
most likely never had heard in all their lives 
about morality, which in despite of theorists 
seems not to be a thing implanted in mankind, 
but supergrafted mainly with an eye to the con- 
secration of our property, they found themselves 
attracted towards Luz after a fashion which, had 
it happened in regard to any other girl, they 
could have understood. Certain it is, that both 
of them felt vaguely that she was near to them 
in blood, and neither of them perhaps had formu- 
lated in his mind exactly what he felt. They 
watched each other narrowly, and neither cared 
to see the other alone with Luz, but neither Cruz 
or Froilan spoke to their half-sister or to each 
other, but by degrees they grew morose and 
quarrelsome, making their mother miserable, 
and their half-sister sad at their changed temper 
both to each other and to her. Their mother, 

D 



34 LOS SEGUIDORES 

with the experience of her sixty years, saw how 
the matter lay, and recognised that on the pampa 
strange things did take place, for, as she said, 
" El Cristiano macho (the male Christian) is the 
hardest to restrain of all God's beasts," having 
had no doubt experience of his ways with her 
wo husbands in the days gone by. So, whilst 
the petty tragedy was brewing, so to speak, 
nature, serene, inimitable and pitilessly sad, but 
all unconscious of the puny passions of man- 
kind, unrolled the panorama of the seasons as 
quietly as if no human souls hung trembling in 
the scales. Night followed day, the scanty 
twilight scarcely intervening, the hot sun sink- 
ing red upon the low horizon as at sea, and in an 
instant the whole world changed from a yellow 
sun-burnt waste to a cool shadow, from the 
depths of which the cries of animals ascended to 
the unhearing sky which overhung them like a 
deep blue inverted bowl flecked with a thousand 
stars. The frogs croaked with a harsh metallic 
note, and from the thorny trees great drops of 
moisture hung, or dripped upon the roofs. 
Again night yielded up its mysteries to the 
dawn, advancing, conquering and flushed with 
power. So by degrees the summer melted in- 



LOS SEGUIDORES 35 

sensibly to autumn, and the vast beds of giant 
thistles, with stems all frosted over with their 
silver down, began to vanish, and the thin 
animals wandered about, or perished in the 
sand, as the Pampero whistled across the plains. 
But winter too faded before the inexorable unfelt 
turning of the world ; the red verbenas spread 
like carpets, covering the earth as with a blanket, 
the shoots of pampas grass shot up green spikes 
almost between the dusk and dawn, and on their 
little meeting places outside their towns, biscachos 
sat and looked out on the world, and found it 
good, whilst the small owls which keep them 
company nodded their stupid looking, wise, little 
heads, and gave assent. 

The horses played upon the edges of the 
woods, rearing and striking at each other with 
their fore feet, and some who in the autumn had 
been left thin and tired out suddenly thought 
upon their homes, and, throwing up their heads, 
snorted, and, trotting round a little, struck the 
home trail as surely as a sea-gull finds its way 
across the sea. 

But all the magic of the perpetual kaleido- 
scopic change of season, which ought to interest 
any man a million times more keenly than his 

D 2 



36 LOS SEGUIDORES 

own never-changing round of sordid cares, 
brought no distraction to the brothers, who had 
grown to look upon each other partly as rivals, 
and partly with astonishment that the same 
thoughts which tortured each one were present 
in the other's mind. But the mere fact of feel- 
ing the identity of thought confirmed them in 
their purpose, and in a measure served to confirm 
them in their course, for men catch thoughts 
from one another as they take diseases, by con- 
tagion with the worst particles of the sick man 
they touch. 

Upon the pampa, where the passions have full 
play, quite unrestrained by the complexity of life 
which in more favoured lands imprisons them in 
bands of broadcloth and of starch, it was im- 
possible that in the compass of a little hut the 
situation could endure for long. No doubt it 
might have been more admirable had one or 
both the brothers seen the error of their ways, 
repented, and in chivalry and ashes gone their 
respective ways to do their duty in the counting- 
house of life. No doubt in many of the neigh- 
bouring farms girls lived as pretty as their half- 
sister Luz girls whom they might have loved 
without a qualm, and made the mothers of their 



LOS SEGUIDORES 37 

dusky, thievish children, with or without the 
blessing of a priest. They might have told their 
guilty love, and been stricken to the earth by 
the outraged majesty of their sister's woman- 
hood, or felled to the ground with a bullock's 
head swung by the nervous hand of her who 
gave them birth. But chance, that orders 
everything quite in a different way from that we 
think should be the case, had ordered otherwise, 
and the simple tragedy upon the Mocoreta was 
solved more quickly and as effectually as if justice 
or outraged public feeling had seen fit to inter- 
vene. 

How it occured, up to his dying day Froilan 
was never sure, but, seated in the semi-dark- 
ness, cutting some strips of mare's hide to mend 
a broken girth, their mother and their sister 
sitting by, high words broke out between the 
brothers without apparent cause. Cruz, passing, 
in Gaucho fashion, in an instant from a grave, 
silent man, to a foaming maniac, rushed on his 
brother, a long thin-bladed knife clutched in his 
hand. Almost before Froilan had had time to 
draw his knife, or stand on guard, his brother 
tripped and fell, and the knife piercing his 
stomach, he lay on the mud floor with but a 



38 LOS SEGUIDORES 

short half hour of agonising life. Pressing the 
knife into the wound, he beckoned to his brother 
with the other hand, asked his forgiveness, made 
him swear to see their sister married to some 
honourable man, and promise that his own body 
should be laid in consecrated ground. Then, 
turning to his mother, he asked her blessing, 
and, summoning his last strength, drew the 
knife from the wound, and in an instant bled to 
death. His mother closed his eyes and then 
with Luz broke out into a death wail, whilst 
Froilan stood by half stupidly, as if he had not 
comprehended what had taken place. 

The simple preparations over, the short but 
necessary lie arranged, the alcalde duly notified, 
and the depositions of the chief actor and the 
witnesses painfully put on record in a greasy 
pocket-book, nothing remained but to carry out 
the wish of the dead man, to lie in consecrated 
earth. At daybreak Froilan had the two segui- 
dores duly tied before the door, saddled and 
ready for the road. The neighbours helped to 
tie the dead man upon his saddle, propping him 
up with sticks. When all was ready, Froilan 
mounted his own horse, and took the road to 
Villaguay, the dead man's horse cantering beside 



LOS SEGUIDORES 39 

his fellow as if the rider that he bore had been 
alive. 

Their mother and their sister watched them 
till they sank into the plain, their hats last 
vanishing as a ship's top sails sink last into the 
sea. Then, as she drew her withered hand 
across her eyes, she turned to Luz, and saying 
gravely, "The male Christian is the wildest 
thing which God has made," lifted the mare's 
hide hung before the door and went into the hut. 



UN INFELIZ. 

DURING the somewhat fragmentary meal, I had 
watched him, seeing a difference between him 
and the usual French Algerian types. Dressed 
all in grey, his clothes of that peculiar substance 
which seems specially constructed for Algeria, 
Morocco, and the Levant, and which, intended 
to look like English tweed, yet is as different 
from its prototype as is "kincob," his shirt of 
greenish flannel, his boots apparently made by 
a portmanteau maker, his scanty hair a yellowish 
grey, and his thin beard a greyish yellow, he 
gave you the idea of some pathetic seabeaten 
boulder, worn hollow by the beating of the 
waves of life. 

As the smart Spanish-looking, but French- 
speaking, daughter of the landlady brought 
round the dishes, in which sea-slieve, stewed 
in high-smelling oil, made the air redolent, and 
over which myriads of flies kept up a pande- 



UN INFELIZ 41 

moniac concert, or yielded up their lives in the 
thick oleaginous black sauce, he paid her all 
those futile, yet kindly compliments, which only 
men, who in their youth have never known that 
ginger may be hot in the mouth, pay woman- 
kind. She easily accepted them, whilst smiling 
at the commercial travellers, who, with napkins 
tucked into their waistcoats, performed miracu- 
lous feats of sleight of hand, taking up pease as 
dexterously with the broad-pointed, iron-handled 
knives, as does an elephant transfer the buns 
which children give him at a travelling circus, 
from his proboscis to his mouth. Loose- 
trousered officers of the Chasseurs d' Afrique sat 
over the high-smelling foods talking regretfully 
of Paris, and of "les petites " who there and 
elsewhere had fallen victims to their all- 
compelling charms. Detailing all the points 
both physical and moral of the victims, they 
pitied them, and spoke regretfully of what they 
had been, so to speak, impelled to do by the 
force of circumstances, but still with that well- 
founded yet chastened pride with which a 
horseman, once the struggle over, depreciates 
the efforts of a vicious horse. 

Outside, the sandy street, shaded by bella 



42 UN INFELIZ 

sombra and by China trees, was full of Arabs 
straying aimlessly about, existing upon sufferance 
in their own country, each with his hand ready 
to raise at once to a military salute and his lips 
twitching with the salutation of " Bonne chour, 
Mossi," if the most abject member of the ruling 
race should deign to greet him as he passed. 
Dogs, thin and looking like cross-breeds between 
a jackal and a fox, slunk furtively about, their 
ears raw with mange, the sores upon their 
bodies all alive with flies, squirmed in and out 
between the people's legs, receiving patiently 
or with a half-choked yelp, blows with the 
cudgels which all country Arabs use, or kicks 
administered between their ribs from seedy, 
unvarnished patent-leather boots with drab cloth 
tops. At the corners of the streets, horses 
blinked sleepily, their high and chair-like saddles 
sharply outlined against the white-washed walls 
in the fierce glare of the Algerian sun. The 
hum compounded of the cries of animals and 
men, not disagreeable and acute as is the noise 
which rises from a northern crowd, but which 
throughout the East blends itself into a sort of 
chant, rose in the air, and when it ceased, the 
grating of the pebbles on the beach, tossed in 



UN INFELIZ 43 

the ceaseless surf, fell on the ear in rhythmic 
cadences. In all the spaces and streets of the 
incongruous North-European-looking town, the 
heterogeneous population lounged about lazily, 
knowing full well that time was the commodity 
of which they had the most. Riffians in long 
white haiks, carrying the sword-shaped sticks 
with which their ancestors attacked the Roman 
legionaries, strode to and fro, their heads erect, 
their faces set like cameos, impassable except 
their eyes, which lighted for a second in a blaze 
when a French soldier pushed them roughly, and 
then became deliberately opaque. Their women 
with their chins tattooed like Indians, dressed 
in sprigged muslins, their jet black hair hanging 
in plaited tails upon their shoulders, walked 
about staring like half-wild horses at the un- 
familiar shops. Wearing no veils, their appear- 
ance drew from the wealthier Mohammedans 
pious ejaculations as to their shamelessness, and 
aphorisms such as " the married woman is best 
with a broken leg at home," and others more 
direct and quite unfitted for our European 
taste, as we have put a veil of cotton wool 
before our ears, and count all decent, so that we 
do not hear. 



44 UN INFELIZ 

Over the insubstantial French provincial 
houses hung that absorbing eastern thin white 
dust, which in Algeria seems to mock the efforts 
of the conquering race to Europeanise the land, 
no matter howsoever mathematically correct 
they build the spire of Congregational Gothic 
church or fa9ade of the gingerbread town hall. 
The streets all duly planted with the most shady- 
foliaged trees, the arms of the Republic, looking 
as dignified as the tin plates of fire insurance 
offices upon "les monuments," even the pomp 
and circumstance of the military band, crashing 
out patriotic airs upon the square, were unavail- 
ing to remove the feeling that the East was 
stronger than the West here in its kingdom, and 
that did some convulsion but remove the inter- 
lopers, all would fall back again into its time- 
worn rut. 

Musing upon the instability of accepted facts, 
and wondering whether after all, if both the 
English and the French were expelled from 
India and Algeria, they would leave as much 
remembered of themselves as have the makers 
of the tanks in Kandy, or the builders of the 
walls of Constantino : in fact, having fallen into 
that state, which we in common with the animals 



UN INFELIZ 45 

fall into after eating, but which we usually put 
down to the workings of the spirit when it is 
nothing but the efforts of digestion, a voice fell 
on my ear. 

" Would I be good enough to share my 
carriage with a gentleman, an engineer who 
wanted to regain his mine some thirty miles 
away, upon the road." 

The stranger was my dissonance in grey, a 
blot upon the landscape, an outrage in his baggy 
trousers amongst the white-robed people of the 
place. He bore upon his face the not to be mis- 
taken mark of failure : that failure which alone 
makes a man interesting and redeems him from 
the vulgarity of mere crass success. Gently but 
with prolixity, he proffered his request. All the 
timidity which marks the vanquished of the 
world exhaled from his address as he politely 
first tendering his card apologised both for ex- 
istence and for troubling me to recognise the 
fact. I had the only carriage in the town, the 
diligence did not run more than once a week, 
and he was old to make the journey on a mule, 
besides which, though he had been for five and 
thirty years a dweller in the province of Oran, 
he spoke but little Arabic, and it was dull to be 



46 UN INFELIZ 

obliged for a long day to talk in nothing but 
"le petit negre." 

Most willingly I gave consent, and shortly 
the miserable conveyance drawn by a starveling 
mule and an apocalyptic horse, and driven by a 
Jew, dressed in a shoddy suit of European clothes, 
surmounted by a fez, holding in either hand a 
rein and carrying for conveniency his whip 
between his teeth, jangled and rattled to the 
door. We both stood bowing after the fashion 
of Don Basilio and Don Bartolo, waving each 
other in, and making false preparatory steps, 
only to fall back again, until I fairly shoved my 
self-invited guest into the carriage, shut to the 
door, and called upon the Jew to start. He did 
so, dexterously enveloping his miserable beasts 
with a well- executed slash of his whip and a few 
curses, without which no animal will start in any 
colony, ill-use him as you may. 

In a melancholy, low-pitched, cultivated voice 
my fellow-traveller pointed out the objects of 
chief interest on the road. Here such and such 
an officer had been led into an ambush and his 
men " massacred" by Arabs posted on a hill. 
Their tombs, with little cast-iron crosses sticking 
in the sparse sandy grass, were hung with im- 



UN INFELIZ 47 

mortelles, and the shaky cemetery gate, guarded 
by a plaster lion modelled apparently from a St. 
Bernard dog, was there to supplement his 
history. A palm tree grew luxuriantly outside, 
" its roots in water and its head in fire," as if to 
typify the resistance of the land to all that 
comes from Europe, whilst within the walls 
exotic trees from France withered and drooped 
their heads, and seemed to pine for their lost 
rain and mist. The road, well made and bridged, 
and casting as it were a shadow of the cross 
upon the land, wound in and out between a 
range of hills. At intervals it passed through 
villages, built on the French provincial type, 
with a wide street and pointed-steepled church, 
a "mairie," telegraph station, and a barracks 
for the troops. An air of discontent, begot of 
" maladie du pays " and absinthe, seemed en- 
demic in them all : no one looked prosperous 
but the two Arab soldiers, who on their horses, 
sitting erect and motionless, turned out to see 
the passage of the coach. 

Long trains of donkeys and of mules passed 
on the road, driven by men dressed in mere 
bundles of white rags, or by Mallorcans or Va- 
lencians, who, with their sticks shoved down be- 



48 UN INFELIZ 

tween their shirts and backs, urged on their beasts 
with the loud raucous cries which throughout 
Spain the Moors have left to their descendant 
muleteers, together with their pack saddles, 
their baskets of esparto, and the rest of the 
equipment of the road. Occasionally camels 
passed by, looking quite out of place on the high 
road, but still maintaining the same swaying 
pace with which their ancestors from immemo- 
rial time have paced the desert sands. 

And as we jangled noisily upon our path, my 
guest detailed his life, with circumstance, quot- 
ing his " acte de naissance," telling the number 
of his family, his adventures in the colony, on 
which he looked half with affection, half with 
dislike, after the fashion of one mated to a loud- 
tongued wife, who in recounting all his sufferings 
never forgets to add, " But still she was a splen- 
did housekeeper," thus hoping to deceive his 
audience and himself. 

" The country it is good, you see (he said), 
but still unsuited for most kinds of crops. 
Either it rains in torrents and the corn is washed 
away, or else the drought lasts years, so that 
the colonist is always grumbling ; not that our 
countrymen as a general rule are agriculturists, 



UN INFELIZ 49 

no, that they leave to the Mallorcans and Valen- 
cians, but still they grumble at their relatively 
prosperous life." A comfortable doctrine and a 
true ; for grumbling is as sauce to the hard 
bread of poverty ; without it riches would be 
bereft of half their charm, and life be rendered 
tasteless and a mere dream of stertorous con- 
tent. 

As we drove on, the road emerged from woods 
of greenish-grey Aleppo pine into rough hills 
clothed with lentiscus and wild olives, and 
thicketed with cistus and dwarf rhododendrons. 
Partridges flew across the path continually, 
occasionally wild boars peeped out, grunted and 
wheeling back, dived into the recesses of the 
scrub. Parties of mounted Arabs, their haiks 
and selhams floating in the wind, carrying 
hooded hawks on their gloved hands or balanc- 
ing upon their horses' croups, passed us im- 
passible, making their stallions rear and pas- 
sage ; their reins held high and loosely as they 
raised themselves almost upright upon their 
horses' backs. We passed outlying farms, sun- 
swept and desolate, without the charm of mys- 
tery of a ranche in Texas or in Mexico, but 
looking rather more like bits of railway stations, 

E 



5O UN INFELIZ 

cut off in lengths, and dropped upon the hills. I 
learned that most of them were held by officers 
and soldiers who had served in times gone by 
against " les indigenes," and that some of them 
had grown quite rich by waiting till civilisation 
had spread up to them ; a kind of unearned incre- 
ment which even dogmatists in points of econo- 
mics could not be hard on, taking into considera- 
tion the time and dulness that the owners had 
endured. Gourbis of Arabs, mud-built ksour 
with now and then black goats'-hair tents, each 
with its horse feeding in front of it, were dotted 
on the hill sides or on the plains green with pal- 
mettos and with camel-thorn. Occasionally 
white little towns glittered upon the mountain 
sides or nestled in the corries of the hills. The 
untiring sun beat down and blended all in one 
harmonious whole of brown : brown dusty roads, 
brown shaggy hills and rocks ; the animals were 
all coated with the bright brown dust, and men, 
scorched copper-coloured, stood leaning on their 
sticks playing reed pipes and watching goats 
and sheep, so motionless that they seemed tree- 
trunks from which floated sound. 

Little by little I learned all my companion's 
life, His college days, his triumphs, medals, 



UN INFELIZ 51 

and his entry to the world, wise as he said in 
scientific knowledge, but a child in the mean 
necessary arts without which no one can achieve 
success. 

"I was," he said, "bete comme tous les 
chastes, and therefore fell a victim to the first 
pretty face ... I married and adored her, 
working day and night to make a home, a stupid 
story of a stupid man, eh ? . . . well, well, 
the usual thing, the husband all day out, plan- 
ning and striving, and the devil, no not the 
devil, but the idle fool, who flattered . . . 
and the nest empty when the working bird came 
home. So I forswore all women, and lived mis- 
erably, came to this colony, and thought I saw 
an opening, and then married again, this time 
an honest woman almost a peasant, and have 
passed my life, the wolf ever just howling close 
to the door, but not quite entering the house. 

" A happy life, yes happy, for you see I knew 
that I was born a simple, and holy writ says 
that we simples are to inherit all the earth . . . 
well so we do, for we maintain all our illusions 
green, and after all illusions are the best riches, 
so I have been rich, that is until a month ago. 
Not rich, you know, in money, though I have 

E 2 



52 UN INFELIZ 

had my chances, but never took them, as when 
the Germany company offered me fifty thousand 
francs to discover copper in a mine, where since 
the beginning of the world no copper ever was. 
I have seen friends grow rich and have not en- 
vied them, for till a month ago I had a treasure 
in my wife. Yes, a good woman, always equal, 
ever the same, good year, bad year, smiling but 
sensible, hard-working, and with just that worldly 
sense I ever wanted . . . yet looked up to 
me for my scant book learning. . . . No, 
no ... I have not wept much, for I have 
work to do ; not that work deadens grief, as 
you in England say, but that you cannot work 
and weep. 

" The mine is not a rich mine, ten or twelve 
Spaniards, the foreman and myself, the sole in- 
habitants. Dull life, you say. . . . Yes, 
but no duller than in Paris : life is life, no matter 
where you have to live. No I do not shoot ; 
why should one shoot ? rabbits and hares are 
under every tuft of grass ; the Spanish workmen 
kill them now and then with stones. Ah, there 
is the mine, that yellowish mark upon the hill, 
those tunnels, and the huts.*' 

We rattled down the hill, the miserable jades 



UN INFELIZ 53 

both galloped for their lives, the carriage bound- 
ing after them, checked but by a rusty Arab 
stirrup fastened to a chain, which acted as a 
drag. We pulled up sharply, and the drag chain 
breaking left the stirrup stranded on the road. 
As the driver went to retrieve it, and to repair 
the damage, I had full time to contemplate the 
mine. Twelve or thirteen kilometres from the 
nearest house just perched above the road, it 
seemed as if some giant rabbit had burrowed in 
the hill. Two or three tunnels, one of which 
vomited yellowish water underneath the road, 
two or three workings, open-cast and left de- 
serted, two or three heaps of cinders, and a 
pumping engine broken and left to rust, to- 
gether with the ten or a dozen cottages flanked 
by the dreary unsuccessful gardens which in all 
countries miners seem to own, were its chief 
features. An iron water tank upon a pile of 
masonry, and several heaps of coal dumped in 
the bushes which grew between the dark grey 
boulders with which the hill was strewn, served 
as embellishments toward the melancholy scene. 
Slatternly women washed their husbands' 
clothes, or stood and looked out listlessly into 
the driving mist ; a mangy goat or two grazed 



54 UN INFELIZ 

on the prickly shrubs, and a keen wind, whist- 
ling and screeching through the gullies of the 
hills, made the coarse skirts and flannel petti- 
coats crack in the air like whips. The sort of 
place which might have had a kind of grandeur 
of its own had not the mine been there, but 
which disfigured and made vulgar as it was be- 
came more desolating than a slum outside a 
town. The engineer collected his few traps, his 
carpet bag and shoddy plaid, his bulgy umbrella 
and his new hat carefully carried in a handbox 
all the journey on his knee : he tendered me his 
card, large, limp, and shiny, and with his "noms," 
his " prenoms," and his " litres," duly set forth 
upon it. 

Then, having thanked me with prolixity, he 
took his leave of me, and slinging all his things 
upon his back, struck into a small footpath up 
the hill, winding his way amongst the boulders, 
looking so like them in his worn grey clothes 
that it appeared all were identical, only that one 
was moving on the ground. I called and waved 
my hand, but he went upwards towards the huts 
without once turning, and when I looked again, 
the bent grey moving figure had disappeared 
amongst the stones. 



FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA. 

UP from the Arab market comes a hum of 
voices as the white-robed figures shuffle noise- 
lessly about the sandy open space. 

The saddles of the kneeling camels stand out 
like islands in some prehistoric sea, outlined 
against the background of the white-washed 
walls. A yellowish red glow towards the north 
bathes palm trees and the long line of tawny 
hills in the declining light. To the south the 
white-topped sierras of the Atlas are all flushed 
with pink. The Kutubieh tower stands up four 
square, a deserted lighthouse in the ebbing 
ocean of Islam ; Marrakesh, wrapt in a shroud 
of mystery, the houses blended together in the 
grey violet haze of twilight, stretches out, silent 
and looking like some Babylonian ruin of the 
past. Horses neigh shrilly now and then, and 
camels grumble ; the muezzin calls to prayers, 
fatiguing the bewildered Allah with his cry, 
whilst the unbelievers day by day push back 
the faithful and usurp their lands. A whirring 



56 FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 

sound as of a city inhabited by human insects 
fills the ear, and from the beggars sitting blind 
besides the gates rises the cry, Oh! Abd-el- 
Kader el Jilani, Ah! Abd-el-Kader el Jilani, 
the invocation to the saint of far Jilan, he 
who forty years besieged the Lord with prayers 
for the poor. From tortuous bazaars and 
narrow streets sunk deep below the houses, as 
they were gullies in a hill, the noiseless crowds 
emerge, all pressing forward to the Jamal-el- 
Fanar, the centre space in which converges 
all the life and movement of the town. There, 
jugglers play, swallowing their swords, twist- 
ing themselves into strange shapes, and walk- 
ing on the tight rope after the fashion of the 
Eastern juggler from the time of Moses to the 
present day. Five deep the listeners stand, 
as a man tells stories from the Arabian nights, 
whilst horsemen with one leg across the saddle- 
bow, and with one hand grasping the gun and 
rein, the other playing with a rosary, sit silently, 
occasionally sententiously ejaculating, Allah, as 
the artist tells of the enchanted princess and 
her adventures with Ginoun. In the middle of 
the listening crowd the tale unfolds itself, ac- 
companied by gesture and by change of voice 



FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 57 

that in another land would make the teller's 
fortune on the stage. He starts and turns, 
whilst tears rise to his eyes, he laughs, and with 
him start and weep his audience, although he 
never for a moment misses an opportunity as 
he rests for breath, to urge a boy to make his 
rounds, holding a wooden bowl or battered 
white enamelled coffee cup for pence. Then, 
when the offertory is done, resumes his tale, the 
hearers standing fascinated, though they have 
heard it all a thousand times. All the wild life 
of ancient civilisation, further removed from us 
by far than is the life of savages who soon 
assimilate all that is worst of progress, was in 
full swing as it has been since Haroun-er- 
Raschid went forth in Bagad, tired of the dul- 
ness of his palace life, to listen to the secrets of 
the poor who then as now were nearer nature 
and more interesting than cultured dullards in 
their pride of books. It may be that the rail- 
way, which has obliterated most of ancient life, 
which was but half-a-century ago unchanged in 
all essentials from remotest times, will work its 
trumpery transformation on the city of Yusuf- 
ibn-Tachfin. Before its smoke the world grows 
grey. Its whistle crumbles down the walls of 



58 FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 

every Jericho, even as it puffs along the plain, 
making the whole world but a replica of Leeds. 
Caste, dignity, repose, the joy even in a hard life, 
all vanish in the rush to catch a train. The 
Bedouin draped in blue rags, his sandals on his 
feet, seated upon a hide-bound " wind-drinker," 
or perched upon a camel, with his long gun or 
spear in his hand, retains an air of dignity, such 
as might grace a king. The same man, waiting 
at a railway station for a train, becomes a beggar, 
and as you pass him, bound in your hat and 
hosen, and with your umbrella in your hand, 
you hold your travelling rug away, so that it 
may not touch his rags. So does our progress 
make commercial travellers of us all, and take 
away the primeval joy in sun, in wind, in divine 
idleness, the first and greatest gift that nature 
ever gave to man. 

Still in Marrakesh the world wags as in the 
days of the Arabian nights, and though the 
Sultan buys balloons and motor cars, these are 
as much outside the national life as literature 
and painting are outside the life of England. 

Balloons and literature, painting and motor 
cars, are but in England and Morocco forms of 
sport for the cultured few ; trifles by means of 



FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 59 

which the well-to-do pass idle hours, and which 
the bulk of business and God-fearing men do 
not reject, as they are quite outside their lives, 
but do without, deeming them childish, danger- 
ous, or effeminate, anti-Mohammedan, or un- 
English as the case may be. But in Marrakesh, 
before the flush upon the tapia walls had died 
away, before the muezzin from the innumerable 
mosque towers had called to evening prayer the 
crowds, which from the remotest quarters of the 
town had poured towards the sandy square, 
were packed, like sardines in an esparto basket, 
waiting to see the procession of the desert men, 
who with the Sultan's gifts were to pass out to 
camp just underneath the walls. Throughout Mo- 
rocco, and the Arab portion of the east, the desert 
dweller is invested with a kind of sanctity. This 
only he himself in person ever entirely dissipates, 
in the same fashion as the sight of Rome was 
said to dissipate the fervour of the neophyte. 
Let but the Saharawi or the Bedouin but keep 
at home and ride his camels in the sand, and he 
is still a sort of link with pre-historic times. 
His unshorn head, with curled and well oiled 
locks bound round the temples with a string of 
camel's hair, his purity of speech, his nomad life, 



6O FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 

and freedom from contamination by the infidel, 
make him, amongst the dwellers in the town, a 
sort of prototype. Knowledge, they say, is in 
the Sahara, and in a certain way it is ; that is, 
the knowledge which in remotest times, the 
Arabs bought with the camels and the horses 
from the Yemen and from Hadramut. There 
in the desert the traditions of the race are better 
kept than in the towns, or in the "tiresome 
Tell," where men are so much lost to self respect 
(sons of the shameless mothers), that they use 
horses in the plough, set them to carry packs 
upon their backs, and thus degrade the animal 
the prophet loved, and which Allah himself gave 
to the Ishmaelites to ride to war. Certain it is 
that in the Sahara, your man-ennobling toil is 
looked on as the primeval curse, and who so 
impious as to try with sophistry and argument, 
to prove that that which Allah laid on men for 
chastisement is but a paltry blessing in disguise. 
What reasonable man with an immortal soul, a 
healthy body, and an intelligence with which to 
cheat, who cares for blessings when they come 
in a disguise ? As soon may children like the 
medicine lurking in black-currant jam, or sea- 
sick folk, writhen and pallid in their paroxysm, 



FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 6 1 

listen with equanimity to him who tells them it 
will do them good, as Arabs understand the 
meaning of a blessing which is hid. The sun, 
the wind which blows across the sea and bends 
the suddra bushes till they work patterns on the 
sands, the hours of idleness stretched in the goats' 
hair tents, whilst women play the gimbry and 
the hot air quivers and shakes outside upon the 
plain, all these are blessings blessings which 
Allah gives to those his Arabs whom he loves. 

There in the Sahara the wild old life, the life in 
which man-and the animals seem to be nearer 
to each other than in the countries where we 
have changed beasts into meat-producing engines 
deprived of individuality, still takes its course, 
as it has done from immemorial time. Children 
respect their parents, wives look at their hus- 
bands almost as gods, and at the tent door elders 
administer what they imagine justice, stroking 
their long white beards, and as impressed with 
their judicial functions as if their dirty turbans 
or ropes of camels' hair bound round their heads, 
were horse hair wigs, and the torn mat on which 
they sit a woolsack or a judge's bench, with a 
carved wooden canopy above it, decked with the 
royal arms. 



62 FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 

Thus, when the blue baft-clad, thin, wiry 
desert-dweller on his lean horse or mangy camel 
comes into a town, the townsmen look on him 
as we should look on one of Cromwell's Iron- 
sides, or on a Highlander, of those who marched 
to Derby and set King George's teeth, in pud- 
ding time, on edge. Not that the town-bred 
Arabs look at the desert man with reverence, 
but with a curiosity mixed with respect, as upon 
one who though a fool for everyone who does 
not live as we do is a fool yet as the prototype 
of what he was himself and would be now, but 
for the special care which fate has had of him, 
and the exertion of his individual powers. 

The throngs who all the afternoon had listened 
to the story-tellers, or watched the tumblers, went 
to swell the crowd. The grave and silent men 
who sitting in wooden box-like shops, with high 
up-lifted flap, suspended by a string fixed to a 
wooden peg stuck in the wall, careless about 
their sales, and yet as eager for a farthing should 
a sale occur, as an Italian or a Scotchman, all 
joined the crowd and slowly walked towards the 
Jamal-el-Fanar. Along the walls blind beggars 
sat with wooden bowls ; flies clustered round 
their eyes, and as the people passed they cla- 



FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 63 

moured in the self same way that orientals pray, 
seeking to force their wishes on Allah, just as in 
times gone by blind Bartimaeus sat beside the 
gate, and no doubt as he sat kept up a constant 
cry for alms. Grave sheikhs rode past, mere 
bundles of white fleecy wrappings, as they sat 
high on their pacing mules. If they were 
holy, that is descended from Mohammed, and 
rich men, a true believer now and then, when 
their mules halted in the crowd, and the atten- 
dants on the sheikh parted the press with cries 
of " balak," "balicum," stepped up and kissed 
their robes. Had they been twice as well de- 
scended and been poor, 'tis ten to one no one 
had had sufficient faith to see the holy blood as 
it ran through the veins beneath the dirty rags. 
Faith is not absolute either in east or west, and 
those who have it, enjoy it as they do good teeth, 
without volition of their own, and even then 
they hold it, so to speak on sufferance, and a too 
strenuous stretching may in a moment break the 
strings. Wild Berbers from the hills, their 
heads shaved all but a love or war lock, call it 
what you will, with scanty beards and Mongol- 
looking eyes, went trotting by in bands. And 
as they ran they held each other's hands, for 



64 FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 

those who dwell in cities are sons of devils, and 
it is wise to keep together in a town. So run- 
ning hand in hand, their clubs beneath their arms 
or stuck into their waist-belts, or between their 
orange-eyed achnifs and their bare backs, they 
passed towards the Jamal-el-Fanar. Long trains 
of camels at the cross streets blocked the way, 
the planks they carried trailing on the ground. 
Loud rose the cries of " balak," and as the 
camels stood, whilst dogs and children ran be- 
tween their legs, and men on donkeys which 
they guided with a club, made themselves flat 
against the walls and glided past, the donkeys' 
tripping feet just brushing on the ground, the 
riders sitting so steadily they might have carried 
in their hands a bowl of water without spilling 
it, they stretched their necks towards the piles 
of dates, which in a solid mass, made living by 
the myriads of flies, lay piled up in the shops. 
A smell of spices, mingled with horsedung, hung 
in the air, as from the shops the bags of asafoe- 
tida, bundles of cinnamon, attar of roses, tamar- 
el-hindi, and the like gave out their various 
scents to mingle with the acrid odours of the 
crowd. Occasionally a madman in an old sack, 
his hair like ropes hanging upon his shoulders, 



FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 65 

and in his hand a stick, his eyes staring about or 
wrapt, stalked by. The people murmured de- 
voutly as he walked, for madness is a proof of 
Allah's love, and those we shut in prisons, all 
well sanitated and with electric light, to save 
our eyes the unpleasant spectacle of seeing those 
whose blood flows to the brain too slowly or in 
too great force, the Easterns cherish and allow 
to roam about the streets, believing that Allah 
made all things according to his will, and not 
presuming to step in and help him in the details 
of the plan. Pigeons strolled in and out amongst 
the throng, walking as gravely as if they too 
were slaves of the one God, and no man harmed 
them, either in their walk, or when they sat 
upon the matting stretched across the street, 
well within reach of those who passed along. 
Brown boys, half naked, and with stomachs 
swollen like tubs, formed up in bands, and 
danced the " heidus," stamping and clapping 
hands to a half rythmic chant coeval with the 
times when the first chimpanzee, after due cogita- 
tion, thought he had a soul. Within the square, 
soldiers who looked unmitigated pimps, and 
dressed in ragged uniforms of pink or red, 
struggled to keep a passage in the throng, as 



66 FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 

with their rifles stacked they smoked and sang, 
and one of them, a tray hung from his neck, sold 
sweetstuff, calling as he sold upon Edris, Muley 
Edris, the patron of the sweetmeat sellers and 
of all those who use the sugar of the cane. The 
officers, each dressed according to his will, but 
generally in clean white Arab clothes, riding fat 
horses which passed sidling through the crowds, 
tossing their heads, and ready to say Ha, did 
trumpets sound, leisurely got the soldiers into line. 
A thrill of expectation moved all hearts, and 
then from underneath a horseshoe archway at 
the furthest corner of the square the desert men 
appeared. 

Our Lord the Sultan had been gracious to 
them, and they had stood before him seeing his 
face, and listening to his words conveyed to them 
by the court herald, he who speaks before the 
King. Horses and pacing mules, with gold em- 
broidered saddles, somewhat the worse for wear, 
cloth cloaks and shoes, some rifles, though pro- 
bably with cartridges made for another bore, and 
jars of butter, which makes glad the heart of 
man, spices, and watches of the Christians, bear- 
ing the mystic name of Waterbury, God's caliph 
had bestowed upon his Saharowis, with many 



FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 67 

gifts even more valuable, for their headman, the 
holy Ma-el-ainain. Horsemen dressed all in in- 
digo, with naked arms and legs dyed blue with 
the baft clothes they wore, filed in irregular pro- 
cession slowly across the square. Olive in colour 
and wild eyed, their hair unshorn and streaming 
down their backs, or thick with mutton fat stick- 
ing out like a bush, well knit and nervous, with 
small hands and feet, they looked a race pure 
and unmixed with any other blood. Some rode 
their mules as they were camels, with their 
hands held on a level with their mouths, their 
guns stuck upright on their saddle-bow, as they 
were spears, and their quick eyes embracing 
everything, or fixed and seeing nothing, looking 
out on the distance after the way of those who 
live in lands of vast horizons and of unbounded 
space. Others on foot led horses by the reins, 
some rode their camels with their faces veiled in 
blue, their eyelids painted with collyrium, and 
as the camels paced, they swayed about, back- 
wards and forwards, as ships sway about at sea. 
So did their ancestors, the Almohades, called by 
the Spanish chroniclers, " those of the veils," 
ride when they crossed the narrow straits, which 
they knew as the "gate of the road," from 

r a 



68 FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 

Hisnr-el-Mujaz, the castle of the crossing, to 
invade the Andalos, and introduce again the 
worship of " the one," which with the Moors in 
Spain had been obscured by contact with the 
Christians, and too much study of the Greeks. 

The crowd stood silent watching them, half in 
respect, and half inclined to jeer at their bad 
horsemanship, for desert men are better on a 
camel than a horse, but still they murmured as 
the procession took its way, " these men indeed 
be Arabs," as who should say, would we were 
like them in their customs and their faith. Faith 
certainly they had, and of such quality as to be 
able not only to remove a mountain, but to erect 
a sierra out of a grain of sand. Beside them rode 
men of the Sultan's bodyguard, all horsemen 
from their birth, drawn from the Arab tribes, 
and now and then they charged across the 
square regardless of the people in their way, 
wheeling their horses as birds wheel upon the 
wing, standing erect an instant in their saddles, 
twisting their silver-mounted guns above their 
heads, then stopping short and firing, whilst 
from the housetops all around the square the 
women raised the curious shrill cries which the 
old Spaniards knew as " Alelies," sharp and ear- 



FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 69 

piercing as a jackal's bark or the wild cry of the 
coyote in New Mexico. 

A dense white dust hung over everything, 
which in the waning light looked grey and 
ghastly on the dark blue clothes the Saharowis 
wore. At length, and just before the last red 
gleam of sunset sunk into grey and violet tints on 
the brown tapia walls, and tinged the palm trees 
which like a sea for leagues embower Marrakesh 
in a sea of green, the holy man appeared. 

Mounted upon a fat white pacing mule, veiled 
to the eyes, and with a mass of charms depend- 
ing from his turban like horses' trappings stream- 
ing down his face, dressed all in spotless white, 
except a dark blue cloak, flung over his left 
shoulder, and guarded from the vulgar by a band 
of desert youths, who trotted on beside his 
mule like dogs, he slowly hove in sight. 

The crowd closed in anxious to kiss his clothes, 
to get the holy " baraka " which clings about 
the person of a saint. Ma-el- Ainain, 'tis he, the 
crowd exclaimed, the saint of saints, the man 
our Lord the Sultan honours above all, and as 
they pressed to touch his stirrups or his clothes, 
he rode impassible taking all as his due, and 
slowly pacing through the throng, took his way 



7O FROM THE MOUTH OF THE SAHARA 

desert wards, under the horseshoe gateway at 
the corner of the square. 

Then night descended on the town, and the 
last gleams of sunlight flickering on the walls, 
turned paler, changed to violet and to grey, and 
the pearl-coloured mist creeping up from the 
palm woods outside the walls enshrouded every- 
thing. 



AT UTRERA. 

" Do you think," says Gonzalo Silvestre, in the 
" Florida" of Garcilaso de la Vega, to a starving 
comrade who was complaining of his hunger, 
"that in this desert we shall find delicacies 
(manjares) or Utrera cakes?" 

This little sentence in the enchanting history of 
the old half Inca prince, half Spanish gentleman, 
has always made Utrera, for me, an entity. True 
that I have often seen the place, often waited 
wearily at it for the compulsory forty minutes 
for breakfast, in the heat and dust. But I knew 
it only as an unnecessary junction outside Seville, 
a station, amongst others, between Las dos 
Hermanas and El Arrahal, until I read that 
line. Most towns we pass upon a journey have 
no real being for us. Even if we stopped at 
them, they would perhaps have as little to dis- 
tinguish them from their immediate neighbours 
as have the majority of the educated voters of 



72 AT UTRERA 

the world. But let a writer, such as Garcilaso, 
mention them, but cursorily, and they become 
as it were alive, and have a real existence of 
their own, ten times as real as the existence 
which their streets, their churches, dust-heaps, 
prosperity, and all the want of circumstance of 
their municipality, seem to impart. So much 
more vital is the pen of genius than is the sim- 
ulacrum of vitality, which is called actual life. 
Not that in southern towns there does not still 
exist a real life, far more intense than that which 
northerners enjoy. We in the north have quite 
obscured the actors in the setting of the piece. 
Our interest in the welfare of mankind an in- 
terest which our modern and unwise philosophers 
declare is to be centered in the future, and that 
mankind to-day is in such keen necessity of 
eveything, that it becomes unwise to meddle with 
it renders us dwellers as it were in a camera 
obscura, wherein we see ourselves as people 
sitting at a play. So have we lost our sense of 
being players, which the Southerners still have, 
and go about our lives, trying by sport, athletics, 
and the like to make believe we live. 

All that makes life worth having we neglect 
or relegate back to the middle distance of our 



AT UTRERA 73 

minds, as cabs and omnibuses passing in the 
street, appear to float in space, fata morganas in 
the panes of the black mirror window in West 
Halkin Street. So that life's mainsprings, if not 
quite unknown (for every animal, northern and 
southern, man, wolf, and bull, feel in a measure 
hatred and love), are so beset with property, 
convention, and so be- fig-leaved, as to be re- 
legated from the first place they should enjoy, 
to that of waiters on prosperity ; for in the lands 
where County Councils rule, no one has time for 
either love or hate till his position is assured, 
and he begins to feel the ache between the 
shoulder blades. But in the countries of the 
sun a man's best property is after all his life, and 
power of love and hate, and therefore he becomes 
a child in things which we think all important, 
and a profound philosopher in those other things, 
as hate, love, well-filled idleness, and indiffer- 
ence to care, to which no one of us attains. 

Except in dress, the people at Utrera could 
not have greatly changed since when Silvestre 
sailed from San Lucar in some high-pooped ship, 
or caravel small as La Pinta, from the rail of 
which a sailor sitting fishing had his leg bitten 
by a shark in the first voyage that Columbus 



74 AT UTRERA 

made. An iron wheel or two, a water tank from 
which the wheezing engine fills its boilers twice 
a day, a telegraph which, if it works, is used 
alone for things in which the general public have 
no share, have not vitality enough to alter greatly 
or at all the single race of Europe which has 
remained unspoiled. Even the railway, which 
in other lands bends people to its will, in Spain 
is changed and puts on some of the graces of a 
bullock cart. About the station, looking at the 
train, but with its thoughts turned inward on 
itself, the lazy crowd of olive-coloured, under- 
sized, but well-knit men, in tightly-fitting trousers, 
low-crowned, broad-brimmed hats, each with 
his cigarette alight or burnt out in his lips, as it 
had been part of his system at his birth, strolled 
gravely up and down, looking the women as 
they passed full in the face, and being in their 
turn severely scrutinised by their black unflinch- 
ing eyes. The heterogeneous mass of bundles, 
the corded, hairy, cowskin trunks, and cotton 
umbrellas, which form the bulk of luggage at a 
southern railway station, lay on the platform 
blistering in the sun. The electric bell twittered 
and chattered like a grasshopper, whilst the 
grave station-master, arrayed in white, strolled 



AT UTRERA 75 

up and down, absorbed in the full emptiness of 
mind which gives an air of seriousness to south- 
ern folk. In the refreshment -room the waiters 
lounged round the table bearing stews yellow with 
saffron, pilaffs of rice, salads and fruit, smoking 
the while, and exchanging their ideas on politics 
and things in general with the company they 
served. The company itself, seated without a 
vestige of class separation, talked as uncon- 
strainedly as they had all been intimate with one 
another from their youth. The gentlemen all 
had an air of having been at one time bull- 
fighters, or at least "intelligents" (inteligentes), 
and the stray bull-fighters looked like gentlemen 
who pursued their calling from the love of sport. 
The ladies, dressed in the extreme of Paris 
fashions, still looked like "chulas" in disguise; 
the "chulas " gave you the impression that were 
they painted with more art, and dressed in Paris, 
they could straight pose as ladies, and be success- 
ful in their part. Not that the ladies were not 
ladies, or that the "chulas" aped their ways, or 
envied their position, but yet, the type was so 
alike in each, that outwardly all the distinction 
was in dress. Both of them heard without re- 
sentment compliments of the most violent kind, 



76 AT UTRERA 

accepted them at their true value, and recognised, 
perhaps by instinct and without reasoning, but 
clearly all the same, that the first duty that their 
sex owed to itself was to be women, thus con- 
quering without an effort the respect which it 
has taken northern women centuries of struggle 
to achieve. 

Outside the station, donkeys and mules and 
horses nodded their heads, tied to a bar between 
two posts by esparto ropes, their woollen-covered 
saddles, striped red and purple, looking almost 
Oriental against the background of the sand. 
Men slept in corners close to their horses, mere 
brown bundles, their olive riding-sticks stuck 
down between their naked backs and ragged 
shirts, and standing up stiffly, or projecting out 
fantastically beyond their heads in the intense 
abandonment of life, which seemed to come upon 
them in their sun-steeped sleep. 

Over the whole incongruous meeting of the 
powerful semi-Oriental life with the sour breath 
of the new-fangled and progressive world as typi- 
fied in the cheaply run-up station and the Bel- 
gian engine snorting on the track, the sun shone 
down, fiery and merciless, exposing all the shams 
of life, and making men more simple in their 



AT UTRERA 77 

villainy and their nobility than it is possible to 
be in the dim regions of electric light. 

Trains came and went, the passengers scaling 
their steps from the level of the line, after the 
fashion of a soldier mounting the deadly immi- 
nent breach, the men ascending first, and holding 
out their hands to the women, who were shoved 
behind by any passing stranger, and dumped 
like bales of goods upon the carriage floor. The 
water-sellers, with their Andujar pottery water- 
coolers, called out their merchandise so guttur- 
ally, that their cry seemed Arabic, and the sellers 
of fruit and toasted ground-nuts, crawled along 
the platform seemingly quite unconcerned about 
a sale. Boys climbed the windows, and whined 
for halfpence, turning their blessings into curses 
if they were refused. All the bright, lazy, virile 
elements of southern Spanish life passed sway- 
ing on their hips, and looking fixedly with un- 
blinking eyes, whilst in the middle of the line 
a tame white pigeon walked about, picking up 
grains of corn, and diving in and out between 
the carriage wheels, to the terror of the country- 
women, who after their custom attached a sort 
of sanctity to it, because it was so white. 

Strange that the qualities which endear both 



78 AT UTRERA 

animals or men to us are all inherent and im- 
possible to be acquired. ' No study, education, 
striving, nor a whole life of wishing, will give 
beauty or a sweet disposition to an ugly fool. 
A pigeon born of another colour, by a whole 
century of self-sacrifice cannot attain to white- 
ness, so perhaps those who in that tint see 
sanctity, are right, for anything that is attain- 
able by work is of its very nature common, 
and open to us all. So underneath the wheels, 
and on the line, playing at hide and seek with 
death, the holy whiteling walked, occasionally 
picking an insect from its feathers with its 
coral beak, as naturally as if it had been black, 
slate-coloured, or a mere speckled ordinary bird. 
Trains came and went, clanging and rattling, 
and the passengers proceeded on their way 
packed in the sweltering carriages, contented, 
almost as patient in their endurance of the 
miseries of transit, as they had all of them been 
born without the vaunted power of reasoning, 
which takes away from man the placid dignity 
which animals possess. 

Men rolled their cigarettes between their fin- 
gers browned with tobacco juice, and women 
fanned themselves, using their fans as they had 



AT UTRERA 79 

come into the world with a small fan stuck in 
their baby hands, ready for future use. All 
talked incessantly, and as they talked, and 
smoked, and fanned, the tame white pigeon 
wove its way in and out amongst the wheels. 
All the bright comedy of southern life displayed 
itself, cheap, careless, philosophic, and intent to 
enjoy the world it lives in ; heedless of pain, of 
suffering, of life itself ; trembling at the idea of 
death when spoken of, and yet prepared to meet 
it stoically at its real approach. Simple, yet 
subtle in trivialities, convinced that none but 
they themselves had grace, wit, beauty, or intelli- 
gence, and yet not greatly self-exalted by the fee 
simple of the only qualities which make men 
loveable, but taking all as their own due, the 
people accepted everything that was, and looked 
upon the trains, the station, the electric bells, 
the telegraph, and the grave Catalonian engine- 
drivers perspiring in the sun upon their engines, 
with lumps of cotton waste in their strong dirty 
hands, as things sent into the glad world by 
Providence on their behalf. An attitude which 
after all may be as good as that of northerners, 
who, thinking that all the planets turn round 
their own particular place of abode, yet hold 



80 AT UTRERA 

that they themselves in some mysterious way 
are half accountable for every revolution that 
they make, and if they stopped but for a moment 
in their efforts, or but withdrew a tittle of their 
countenance, that the whole solar system would 
crumble on their heads. 

Seated upon the platform drinking coffee, and 
thinking listlessly on things, the " chicas," the 
coming bull fight, if the Madrid express would 
ever come, and if Silvestre, if he came to life, 
would find much difference, beyond the railway, 
in Utrera, I saw the local train start with a 
puffing, jangling of couplings, banging of doors, 
and belching forth of smoke. The two grave 
gendarmes got into their van, belated passengers 
worked themselves along the footboard to their 
seats, and in a cloud of dust engine and carriages 
bumped off upon their way. Clinkers and straws 
were wafted in my face, the multitudinous last 
words floated in the still air, and on the line lay 
something which at first sight appeared a news- 
paper, but that it seemed alive, and here and 
there was flecked with red ; it flapped a little 
feebly, turned over once or twice, and then lay 
motionless upon the six-foot way. 



MIGHT, MAJESTY, AND DOMINION. 

A NATION dressed in black, a city wreathed in 
purple hangings, woe upon every face, and grief 
in every heart. A troop of horses in the streets 
ridden by kings; a fleet of ships from every 
nation upon earth ; all the world's business stilled 
for three long days to mourn the passing of her 
who was the mother of her people, even of the 
poorest of her people in the land. The news- 
papers all diapered in black, the clouds dark- 
grey and sullen, and a hush upon the islands, 
and upon all their vast dependencies throughout 
the world. Not only for the passing of the 
Queen, the virtuous woman, the good mother, 
the slave of duty ; but because she was the 
mother of her people, even the poorest of her 
people in the land. Sixty odd years of full 
prosperity; England advancing towards uni- 
versal Empire ; an advance in the material 
arts of progress such as the world has never 

Q 



82 MIGHT, MAJESTY, AND DOMINION 

known ; and yet to-day she who was to most 
Englishmen the concentration of the national 
idea, borne on a gun-carriage through the same 
streets which she had so often passed through 
in the full joy of life. Full sixty years of pro- 
gress ; wages at least thrice higher than, when 
a girl, she mounted on her throne ; England's 
dominions more than thrice extended ; arts, 
sciences, and everything that tends to bridge 
space over, a thousand times advanced, and a 
new era brought about by steam and electricity, 
all in the lifetime of her who passed so silently 
through the once well-known streets. The 
national wealth swollen beyond even the dreams 
of those who saw the beginning of the reign ; 
churches innumerable built by the pious care of 
those who thought the gospel should be brought 
home to the poor. Great battleships, torpedo 
boats, submarine vessels, guns, rifles, stinkpot 
shells, and all the contrivances of those who 
think that the material progress of the Anglo- 
Saxon race should enter into the polity of savage 
states, as Latin used to enter schoolboys' minds, 
with blood. Again, a hum of factories in the 
land, wheels whizzing, bands revolving so rapidly 
that the eye of man can hardly follow them, 



MIGHT, MAJESTY, AND DOMINION 83 

making machinery a tangled mass of steel, heav- 
ing and jumping in its action, so that the un- 
practical looker-on fears that some bolt may 
break and straight destroy him, like a cannon 
ball. 

All this, and coal mines, with blast furnaces, 
and smelting works with men half-naked work- 
ing by day and night before the fires. Infinite 
and incredible contrivances to save all labour ; 
aerial ships projected ; speech practicable be- 
tween continents without the aid of wires ; 
charities such as the world has never known 
before ; a very cacoethes of good doing ; a sort 
of half-baked goodwill to all men, so that the 
charities came from superfluous wealth and the 
goodwill is of platonic kind ; all this and more 
during the brief dream of sixty years in which 
the ruler, she who was mother of her people, 
trod the earth. All these material instances of 
the great change in human life, which in her 
reign had happened, and which she suffered un- 
resistingly, just as the meanest of her subjects 
suffered them, and as both she and they wel- 
comed the sun from heaven as something quite 
outside of them, and, as it were, ordained, her 
people, in some dull faithful way, had grown into 

G 2 



84 MIGHT, MAJESTY, AND DOMINION 

the habit of connecting iii some vague manner 
with herself. For sixty years, before the most 
of us now living had uttered our first cry, she 
held the orb and sceptre, and appeared to us a 
mother Atlas, to sustain the world. She left us, 
almost without a warning, and a nation mourned 
her, because she was the mother of her people, 
yes, even of the meanest of her people in the 
land. 

So down the streets in the hard biting wind, 
right through the rows of dreary living-boxes 
which like a tunnel seemed to encase the assem- 
bled mass of men, her funeral procession passed. 
On housetops and on balconies her former sub- 
jects swarmed like bees ; the trees held rookeries 
of men, and the keen wind swayed them about, 
but still they kept their place, chilled to the 
bone but uncomplainingly, knowing their former 
ruler had been the mother of them all. 

Emperors and kings passed on, the martial 
pomp and majesty of glorious war clattering and 
clanking at their heels. The silent crowds stood 
reverently all dressed in black. At length, when 
the last soldier had ridden out of sight, the 
torrent of humanity broke into myriad waves, 
leaving upon the grass of the down-trodden park 



MIGHT, MAJESTY, AND DOMINION 85 

its scum of sandwich papers, which, like the 
foam of some great ocean, clung to the railings, 
round the roots of trees, was driven fitfully be- 
fore the wind over the boot-stained grass, or 
trodden deep into the mud, or else swayed 
rhythmically to and fro as seaweed sways and 
moans in the slack water of a beach. 

At length they all dispersed, and a well-bred 
and well-fed dog or two roamed to and fro, snif- 
fing disdainfully at the remains of the rejected 
food which the fallen papers held. 

Lastly, a man grown old in the long reign of 
the much-mourned ruler, whose funeral proces- 
sion had just passed, stumbled about, slipping 
upon the muddy grass, and taking up a paper 
from the mud fed ravenously on that which the 
two dogs had looked at with disdain. 

His hunger satisfied, he took up of the frag- 
ments that remained a pocketful, and then, 
whistling a snatch from a forgotten opera, 
slouched slowly onward and was swallowed by 
the gloom. 



SURSUM CORDA. 

THERE is a plethora of talk, which seems to stop 
all thought, and by its ceaseless noise drive 
those who wish to think back on themselves. 
All talk, and no one listens, still less answers, for 
all must swell the general output of the chatter 
of the world. Bishops and Deans, with poli- 
ticians, agitators, betting men, Women's Rights 
Advocates, members of Parliament, lawyers, 
nay even soldiers, sailors, the incredible average 
man, and most egregious superior person, must 
all be at it for their very lives. Still, talking 
serves a purpose, if only that of saving us from 
the dire tedium of our thoughts. Tobacco, 
sleep, narcotics, dice, cards, drink, horse racing, 
women, and religion, with palmistry, thought 
reading, the "occult," athletic sports, politics, 
all stand out ineffectual as consolers when com- 
pared to speech. What triumphs in the world 
can be compared to those speech gives ? 



SURSUM CORDA J 

The writer writes, toils, waits, publishes, and 
succeeds at last, but feels no flush of triumph 
like to that which the "cabotin," preacher, 
pleader, or mob orator enjoys when he perceives 
the eyes of the whole audience fixed upon him 
like a myriad of electric sparks ; their ears drink 
in his words, and men and women, rich, poor, 
old, young, foolish, and wise alike, are bound 
together by the spell of speech. So after all it 
may be that, though silence is of silver, speech 
is purest gold. Pity that, being golden, it should 
be abused; but still to what base uses gold is 
put, and so of speech. 

But be that as it may, let speech be only silver, 
silence gold, take but away our speech, chain us 
within the terror of ourselves by silence long 
enforced, and the most abject drivel of the sound 
business man, whose every thought is abject 
platitude, whose mind has never passed from 
the strict limits of his villa and his counting- 
house, becomes as sweet as music to our ears. 
Let those who doubt try for a month to keep 
strict silence, never to speak, to hear and never 
dare to answer, to enchain their thoughts, their 
wishes, their desires, passions, anxieties, affect- 
ions, regrets, remorses, anger, hatreds, loves in 



88 SURSUM CORDA 

brief, to leave the gamut of that inner life which 
makes a man, with all the notes untouched. 
Whilst listening to a painful preacher, sitting out 
a play, endeavouring to understand in Parlia- 
ment what a dull speaker thinks he means to 
say, the thought creeps in, why teach the dumb 
to speak ? Why rive away from them that which 
at first sight seems the chief blessing, want of 
speech, and so enable them to set their folly forth 
and talk themselves down fools. Then comes 
experience, experience that stands as a divinity 
to reasoning men, and clamours out, Nay, let 
them speak although they know not what they 
say ; their speech may strike a chord they know 
not of in some man's heart. 

Think on a silent world, a world in which men 
walked about in all respects equipped with every 
organ, every sense, but without speech. They 
might converse by signs as Indians do upon the 
trail, but I maintain no city of tremendous night 
could be more awful than the horror of a speech- 
less world. Never to speak, only to find our 
tongues in agony of fear, as horses tied within a 
burning stable, dumb idiots in great peril of their 
lives, or, as the animal under curare, upon the 
vivisector's bench (calling to man who should be 



SURSUM CORDA 89 

as his God), give out occasionally some horrid 
sound, and even then know it would be unheard. 
Shepherds upon the hills, men in a cattle 
"puesto" in La Plata, hut keepers in Australia, 
the Gambusino straying amongst the valleys of 
the Sierra Madre, Arab rekass, monks, fisher- 
men, lighthouse-keepers, and the poor educated 
man lost in the crowded solitude of London, all 
know of silence and its fears Still they can talk 
if only to themselves, sing, whistle, speak to their 
animals, look at the sea, the desert, scan the 
immeasurable brown of pampas, the green of 
prairie, or the dull duskiness of bush, or if in 
London launch into objurgation on mankind, 
knowing that if they objurgate enough some one 
will answer, for we Britons cannot stand re- 
proaches, knowing that we are just. An inward 
something seems to assure us of our righteous- 
ness, and all we do is never done as it is done in 
other and less favoured lands, from impulse, pre- 
judice, or hurriedly, but well thought out, and 
therefore as inexorably unjust in the working as 
is fate itself. Let speech be golden, silver, diffu- 
sive, tedious, flippant, deceptive, corrupting, som- 
nolent, evasive, let it be what you will, it is the 
only medium by which we can assert that majesty 



96 StiRStJM CORDA 

which some folks tell us is inherent in man- 
kind, but which the greater part of us (from 
democratic sentiment perchance) rarely allow 
to creep into the light of day; it is the only 
humanizing influence innate in men, and thus 
it seems unwise to put restraint upon it, except 
in Parliament. Chained dogs, parrots in cages, 
squirrels within their stationary bicycles, gold 
fish in globes, wild animals behind their bars, 
monkeys tied to an organ dressed in their little 
red woollen gowns (the fashion never changes), 
bears fastened to a Savoyard, camels on which 
climb multitudinous bands of children, elephants 
accompanied by a miserable "native" tramping 
about with tons of tourists on their backs, 
move me to wrath, and set me thinking what 
is it they can have done in an anterior state 
to undergo such treatment, and whether they 
were men who must as beasts thus expiate 
their crimes of lese-majeste against the animals. 
Yet they are not condemned to silence, and per- 
chance may fabulate at night or when their 
keepers sleep, or lie drunk, and in their ratio- 
cination exhale their cares. 

No, silence is reserved for men who have 
offended against the hazy principles of right and 



SUHSUM CORDA 9 1 

wrong, or over-stepped that ever-shifting frontier 
line, never too well defined, and which advancing 
toleration that toleration which shall some day 
lighten life may soon obliterate, or, if not quite 
obliterate, yet render the return across the line 
more feasible than now. When one considers 
it, how crass it is to shut men up in vast 
hotels, withdrawing them from any possible 
influence which might ever change their lives, 
and to confine them in a white-washed cell, 
with windows of Dutch glass, gas, and a Bible, 
table, chair, little square salt-box, wooden spoon, 
tin pan, schedule of rules, hell in their hearts, 
a pound of oakum in their hands, condemned 
to silence and to count the days, pricking them 
off under the ventilator with a bent nail or pin ! 
Well was it said, the only humanizing influence 
in a prison comes from the prisoners. Let the 
officials do their duty as they think they should, 
the governor be humane, the doctor know a 
little of his work, the chaplain not too inept, 
still prisoners of whatever rank or class, im- 
prisoned for whatever crime, offence, or misde- 
meanour, look on each other as old friends after 
a day or two within the prison walls. Day 
follows day with " skilly," exercise, with chapel, 



92 SURSUM CORDA 

with dreary dulness, and with counting hours. 
Night follows night, and when the light goes 
out the tramping up and down the cells begins, 
the rappings, and the mysterious code by which 
the prisoners communicate, sound through the 
building like an imprisoned woodpecker tapping 
to be free ; tremendous nights of eight and forty 
hours, a twisting, turning, rising oft, and lying 
down to rise again, of watching, counting up to 
a million, walking about and touching every 
separate article ; of thinking upon every base 
action of one's life, of breaking out a cursing 
like a drab ; then falling to a fitful, unrefreshing 
sleep which seems to last but for a minute, and 
then the morning bell. 

Happier by far the men who, in my youth 
in Spain, fished with a basket from the window 
for alms from passers by, smoked, drank, and 
played at cards, talked to their friends; whose 
wives and sisters brought them food in baskets, 
sat talking to them from outside, talked all 
day long, and passed the time of day with other 
citizens who walked the streets, read news- 
papers, and were known to other men as the 
"unhappy ones." A hell on earth you say, 
contaminating influences, murderers and petty 



SURSUM CORDA 93 

thieves, with forgers, shop-lifters and debtors 
all together. At most a hell within a hell, and 
for the influence for good or ill, I take it that 
the communion of the sinners was at least as 
tolerable as we can hope to find (should we 
attain it) the communion of the saints. Phi- 
losophers can theorize to good effect as to the 
probability of other worlds, the atmosphere of 
Mars, the Delphic E, the Atomic Theory, the 
possible perfectibility of the pneumatic tyre, on 
form, style, taste, or forms of government, on 
Socialism, Anarchy, the Trinity, on Cosmic 
Theism, Gnosticism, or the cessation of direct 
divine interposition in affairs sublunary, discuss 
their theories and the muzzling of their dogs, 
weave their philosophies (no man regarding 
them), invent their faiths, destroy them, and 
set to work again in the construction of new 
faiths just as ridiculous as the faiths destroyed ; 
but when they come to theorize upon the treat- 
ment of mankind, all their acumen straight 
evaporates. 

But leaving theorists weaving the ropes to 
hang themselves, spun from the cobwebs of 
their minds, and coming back to practice and to 
common sense that common sense which makes 



94 SURSUM CORDA 

so foolish most things that we do. A recent 
essayist fresh from his Malebolge has set forth 
all that men suffer shut within the silence of 
themselves, has written down the lessons that a 
man gains from the companionship of those who 
no doubt are in general not much more guilty 
than judges, gaolers, their chaplains, warders, 
or than ourselves who sit forgetting that our 
neglect entailed on them the lack of opportunity. 
Well has he spoken of the humility of prison- 
ers, their cheerfulness, compassion for one 
another, well described the circling miserable 
ring of lame folk, aged men, those on the sick 
list, and the rest, who in the prison yard re- 
volve in a small circle round a post, too feeble 
to keep pace with the robuster rogues at exer- 
cise. I see them, too (can do so any time I 
close my eyes), in their long shoddy greatcoats, 
thin, pale, abject as dogs, purposeless, shiftless, 
self-abased, down-eyed, and shuffling in the 
prison shoes ; expectorating, coughing, and a 
jest to those who trot around the ring stamping 
and cursing underneath their breath, what time 
the warders stand blowing their ringers, side 
arms belted on, stiff and immovable, and on the 
watch to pounce upon a contravention of the 



SURSUM CORDA 95 

rules. But whilst the quondam humourist now 
turned moralizer has left his faithful picture of 
the misery of those he lived amongst for two 
long years, he has omitted to set down the one 
event of prison life which breaks the dull mono- 
tony of weeks and days, and lets men feel for a 
brief space that they are men once more. 

The dull week over, oakum all duly picked, 
cells well swept out, the skilly and brown bread 
discussed, beds all rolled up, the inspection over, 
faces all washed, with clean checked handker- 
chiefs (coarse as the topsail of a sugar droger) 
duly served out to last the week, the terrors of 
the bath encountered, the creepy silence of the 
vast unmurmuring hive is broken by the Sabbath 
bell. Then cells give up their dead, and corri- 
dors are full of the pale skilly-fed shuffling crowd, 
each headed by its warder, and every man with 
something of anticipation in his eye, ready to 
march to church. To the vast chapel streams 
the voiceless crowd, and soon each seat is filled, 
a warder duly placed at each bench end to see 
the worshippers do not engage in speculations 
as to the nature of the Trinity, but stand and 
kneel and sit, do everthing in fact that other 
congregations do, omitting only the due dumping 



96 SURSUM CORDA 

of the threepenny bit into the plate, and not 
forgetting that when two or three are gathered 
thus to pray, their Creator stands amongst 
them, although they all are thieves. And thus 
assembled in their hundreds, to make their 
prayer before the God of Prisons, the congre- 
gation sits prisoners and captives, shut within 
themselves, and each man tortured by the 
thought that those outside have lost him from 
their minds. The chapel built in a semicircle, 
with the back seats gradually rising, so that all 
maybe in view, the pulpit made of deal and var- 
nished brown, the organ cased in deal, and for 
all ornament, over the altar the Creed, Lord's 
Prayer, and Ten Commandments, and those last 
look at the congregation as if ironically, and 
seem designed to fill the place of prison rules 
for all mankind. Furtively Bill greets Jack, and 
'Enery, George : " 'Ow are yer blokes ? Another 
bloomin' week gone past." " I ain't a-talkin', 
Sir, 'twas t' other bloke," and a mysterious 
twitch makes itself felt from bench to bench till 
the whole chapel thus has said good- day. Loud 
peals the voluntary, the convicted organist 
some thievish schoolmaster or poor bank clerk 
having made (according to himself) a slight mis- 



SURSUM CORDA 97 

take in counting out some notes attacks an 
organ fugue, making wrong notes, drawing out 
all the stops alternately, keeping the vox humana 
permanently on, and plays and plays and plays 
till a grim warder stalks across the floor and bids 
him cease. " Dearly Beloved " seemed a little 
forced, our daily skilly scarce a matter worth 
much thanks, the trespasses of others we forgave 
thinking our own were all wiped out by our mere 
presence in the place, the Creed we treated as a 
subject well thrashed out, " Prisoners and Cap- 
tives " made us all feel bad, the litany we roared 
out like a chant, calling upon the Lord to hear 
us in voices that I feel He must have heard ; 
epistle, gospel, collects we endured, sitting as 
patiently as toads in mud, all waiting for the 
hymn. The chaplain names it, and the organ 
roars, the organist rocks in his chair, on every 
brow the perspiration starts, all hands are 
clenched, and no one dares to look his neighbour 
in the eyes ; then like an earthquake the pent-up 
sound breaks forth, the chapel quivers like a ship 
from stem to stern, dust flies, and loud from 
every throat the pious doggerel peals. And in 
the sounds the prison melts away, the doors are 
opened, and each man sits in his home sur- 

H 



98 SURSUM CORDA 

rounded by his friends, his Sunday dinner 
smokes, his children all clean washed are by his 
side, and so we sing, lift up our hearts and roar 
vociferously (praising some kind of God), shaken 
inside and out, yelling, perspiring, shouting each 
other down. Old lags and forgers, area sneaks, 
burglars, cheats, swindlers, confidence trick men, 
horse thieves, and dog stealers, men in for rape, 
for crimes of violence, assault and battery, with 
" smashers," swell mobsmen, blackmailers, all 
the vilest of the vile, no worse perhaps if all were 
known than are the most immaculate of all the 
good, made human once again during the six- 
teen verses of the hymn, and all the miseries of 
the past week wiped out in the brief exercise of 
unusual speech. The sixteen verses over, we sit 
down, and for a moment look at one another 
just in the same way as the worshippers are 
wont to do in St. Paul's, Knightsbridge, or St. 
Peter's, Eaton Square. 

" Does you good, No. 8, the bloomin' 'ymn," 
an old lag says, but for the moment dazed 
by the ceasing of the noise, as Bernal Biaz 
says he was when the long tumult ended 
and Mexico was won, I do not answer, but 
at length deal him a friendly kick and think 



SURSUM CORDA 99 

the sixteen verses of the hymn were all too 
short. 

So in a side street when the frequent loafer 
sidles up, and says mysteriously " Gawd bless 
yer, chuck us arf a pint ; I was in with you in 
that crooil plaice," I do so, not that I think he 
speaks the truth nor yet imagine that the prison, 
large though it was, contained two million 
prisoners, but to relieve his thirst and for the 
sake of those condemned to silence, there " in- 
side," and for the recollection of the *' bloomin 
'yrnn." 



2 



THE PYRAMID. 

FAT, meretricious women in evening gowns had 
sung their ballads, their patter songs, their pat- 
riotic airs, in sentimental or in alcoholic tones. 
Comedians in checked clothes and sandy wigs, 
adorned with great red whiskers, and holding 
either short canes or bulgy umbrellas, had made 
the whole " Pretoria " laugh, till the vast music 
hall seemed to rock, as a volcano in activity is 
shaken with its interior fire. 

Women and men had hung head downward 
from trapezes, had swung across the audience 
and been caught by the feet or hands by other 
" artistes " swinging to meet them suspended by 
one foot. Tottering and miserably anthropo- 
morphous dogs had fired off cannons, and cats 
had tremblingly got into baskets with fox ter- 
riers ; a skinny, sallow French " divette " had 
edified the audience with indecencies, rendered 
quite tolerable because half understood. Men 



THE PYRAMID IOI 

dressed in evening clothes had bawled about the 
empire, holding a champagne glass in one hand 
whilst with their other hand they pressed a satin 
opera hat against their epigastrum ; and as the 
songs became more patriotic or more obscene, 
and as each trick of the equilibrists, trapezists, 
wire-walkers and the rest became more dangerous, 
the public the respectable, the discerning, the 
sovereign public had testified its joy in shouts, 
in clappings, and in stampings, and by thump- 
ing with its sticks and umbrellas on the floor. 

Over the auditorium, tobacco smoke hung like 
a vulgar incense in the shoddy temple of some 
false and tinsel god. In the great lounges the 
women sat at tables, dressed in a caricature of the 
prevailing styles ; their boots too pointed, their 
gowns too tightly laced, their hair too curled or 
too much flattened to the head ; and talked to 
youths in evening dress ; to men who had the 
mark of husbands out on strike ; to padded and 
painted elders, who whispered in their ears and 
plied them with champagne. Others who, out 
of luck, had found no man to hire them, walked 
up and down in pairs, pushing against such men 
as looked like customers, laughing and joking to 
one another, or singly stalked about, bored and 



IO2 THE PYRAMID 

dejected, and their legs trailing along imprisoned 
in their rustling skirts, enduring all the martyr- 
dom of the perpetual walking which is the curse 
entailed upon their class. Behind the bars, the 
barmaids, painted and curled, kept up a running 
fire of half indecent chaff with the intelligent 
consumers of American drinks, of whisky-splits, 
or lemon-squashes, returning change for half a 
sovereign if the drinker was too far gone in 
liquor to observe it was a sovereign he put 
down. 

Cadaverous and painted youths, with hot- 
house flowers in their buttonholes, paraded up 
and down, as it seemed for no particular pur- 
pose, speaking to no one, but occasionally ex- 
changing glances with the women as they passed 
upon their beat. 

In fact, the great, the generous, public was 
represented in all its phases, of alcoholic, of bes- 
tial, brutal, lustful, stupid, and of commonplace. 
Yet each one knew he was a part and parcel of 
a great empire, and was well convinced that in 
his person in some mysterious way he made for 
righteousness. The soldier sitting with his 
sweetheart in the gallery ; the rich young idler 
about town, with his dressed- up and be-je welled 



THE PYRAMID 1 03 

mistress in the stalls; the betting men made, 
it is well not to forget, in their creator's image 
each, all, and every one, knew he was not as men 
of other nations, but in some way was better, 
purer, and more manly than the best citizen of 
any foreign race. And so they sat, confident 
that all the performers, of whatever class, lived 
on their approbation, as it was certain they 
existed on their entrance fee. No trick so dan- 
gerous as to awake their pity, no song quite vile 
enough to make them feel ashamed to see a 
man or woman publicly prostitute their talents 
for their sport. Brutal, yet kindly folk they 
were, quite unappreciative of anything but fun 
and coarse indecency ; of feats on which the per- 
former's life hung on a hair ; but still idealistic, 
sentimental souls, easily moved to tears with 
claptrap sentiment, and prone to clench their 
fists, and feel an ardour as of William Tell, 
when from the stage a man waved a small 
Union Jack or sang of Britain and her Colonies, 
ending each verse of his patriotic chant with a 
refrain of " hands across the sea." 

And so the evening wore away. The per- 
former on the fiddle with one string was suc- 
ceeded by the quick-change "artiste," who in 



IO4 THE PYRAMID 

an instant appeared as a life-guardsman, walked 
across the stage and came on as a ballet dancer 
or an archdeacon, a costermonger, or lady from 
a cathedral city, and still in every change of cos- 
tume looked the clever humorous Italian that he 
was. 

Footmen in gorgeous liveries removed the 
numbers from the wings, and stuck up others, 
doing their duty proudly, being well aware 
their noble calves saved them from ridicule. 
The orchestra boomed and thumped through 
German waltzes, popular songs, and Spanish 
music, with the Spanish rhythm all left out, so 
that it sounded just as common as it were made 
at home. 

Between eleven and twelve, turn number 
seventeen, the d6but of "La Famiglia Sinigag- 
lia" stood announced. Carpenters came and 
went upon the stage, and reared a kind of 
scaffold some fifteen feet in height. Then the 
"Famiglia Sinigaglia" came upon the scene 
the father, mother, two children under ten years 
old, and five tall girls ranging from sixteen up to 
five-and-twenty years. The father, of some 
fifty years of age, was stout and muscular, his 
eyes as black as sloes, moustache and chin-tuft 



THE PYRAMID IO5 

waxed to points, hair gone upon the crown, 
which shone like ivory, but still clinging to the 
occiput like sea weed to a rock. Those who had 
been responsible for what they did had called him 
at his baptism Anibale, which name he bore as 
conscious of the responsibility it laid on him, 
half modestly and half defiantly, with a per- 
ception of the ludicrous in life which yet did not 
distract him an iota from his profession, which 
he esteemed the noblest in the world. 

"Altro Signore, ours is reality, not like the 
painters and the poets, with the musicians and 
the actors, who, if they miss their tip, can try 
again; but we, per Baccho, when we miss, 
straight to the Campo Santo, Corpo del Bambin." 

The mother, stout and merry-looking, was 
flaccid from the waist upwards, and had legs as 
of a mastodon, into the skin of which her high 
blue satin boots seemed to embed themselves, 
and to become incorporated. The children passed 
from hand to hand like cricket balls, being 
projected from Anibale to his wife La Sinigaglia, 
behind his back, flying between his legs, alight- 
ing on her shoulders or her head like birds upon a 
bough. Watching this tumbling stood the five 
daughters in a row. All dressed in tights, with 



IO6 THE PYRAMID 

trunks so short, they seemed to cut into their 
flesh, and so cut open on the hips, that it seemed 
marvellous what kept them in their place. They 
were all muscular, especially the eldest, who bid 
fair to be a rival to her mother in flesh and 
merriness; her eyes, roving about the theatre, 
smiled pleasantly when they met anyone's, after 
the fashion of a Newfoundland dog. The others, 
slighter in form, were replicas of her at stated 
intervals. The youngest, thinner than the rest, 
seemed less goodnatured, and with her brown 
bare arms folded across her chest stood rather 
sullenly looking at nothing, smoothing down her 
tights, crossing her feet, and then uncrossing 
them, and now and then, raising her head, 
looked out into the theatre, half frightened, half 
defiantly. The tumbling of the children done, 
the father lying on his back threw the fattest of 
his girls from his feet towards the mother who 
caught her with her feet right in the middle of 
the back, after a somersault. The public know- 
ing the trick was dangerous applauded joyfully, 
and then the five tall girls stepped out to build 
the pyramid. The eldest, straddling her legs, 
folded her arms, after saluting right and left 
with the "te morituri" gesture, which perhaps 



THE PYRAMID IOJ 

the modern acrobat has had straight from the 
gladiator. Her sister climbed upon her shoulders 
and stood upright, waving her arms a minute, 
smiling as the applause broke out from the 
spectators in the theatre. Taking a lace-edged 
pocket-handkerchief from some mysterious hiding 
place, she wiped her hands, and bending down 
signed to another sister, who clambered up, and 
in her turn stood on her shoulders. The fourth 
succeeded, and as they stood, the lowest sister 
staggered a little, and took a step to get her 
balance, making the pyramid all rock, and 
causing Anibale to swear beneath his breath, 
and mutter to his wife. 

"Su Gigia," and the fifth sister ran up the 
staging like a monkey, and stepping from it 
stood on the topmost sister's hands in the attitude 
of John of Bologna's Mercury, one arm uplifted, 
and her eyes turned upwards to the roof. The 
supporting sister staggered a pace or two into 
the middle of the stage, the perspiration dripping 
from her face, and then saluted cautiously with 
her right hand, and the three others broke into 
a smile which they had learned together with 
their tricks. 

The audience burst into applause, Anibale 



IO8 THE PYRAMID 

and La Sinigaglia looked at each other with con- 
tent, knowing their turn had taken on, and from 
the top of the high pyramid the youngest sister 
glared at the applauders with hatred and con- 
tempt, opening her eyes so that the pupils 
almost seemed to burst, but as she glared the 
public kept applauding, being aware that acro- 
bats live on its breath, and counting it as 
righteousness they were not stinted in their 
food. 



TERROR. 

THE scent of horse-dung filled the summer air ; 
the whispering trees stood out black menacing 
masses in the moonlight ; the stuccoed houses 
frowned respectably upon the streets, looking 
like artificial cliffs bounding some silent and 
exclusive sea. Belgravia lay asleep, steeped in 
the pseudo-moonbeams of the electric light ; the 
roar of traffic, which by day-time deafens and 
renders by degrees the ear incapable of hearing 
anything but noise, was dulled, or only rumbled 
fitfully in the far-off streets, whilst in the silent 
squares a breeze shook the dust-powdered trees, 
and rained the first dry summer leaves upon the 
ground. At corners, a stray prostitute or two 
still lingered, lying in wait for the belated diner- 
out. 

At the opening of a mews, a knot of stable- 
men, in shirt -sleeves, with their braces hanging 
down their backs, girt with broad webbing belts, 



IIO TERROR 

stood talking about horses, but seriously and 
without emotion, as befits the solemn nature of 
their theme. The strange and ragged loiterers 
who at night parade the streets, coming out 
silently from the nothingness of misery, " dos- 
sing " in the park, and at the first approach of 
dawn sinking again into the misery of nothing- 
ness which is their life, were all abroad. 
Women, who seemed mere bundles of black 
rags in motion, and men in greasy, old frock- 
coats and trousers with a fringe behind the 
heels, passed one another silently, ships on a sea 
of failure, without a salutation or a sign. 

Mechanically they scratched themselves, their 
hands like claws of mangy vultures, raking 
amongst their rags. Munching a hunch of dirty 
bread, they passed into the night, a silent 
menace to their well-fed brothers in the Lord. 
All that by day is hidden from our sight, was 
out, giving the lie to optimists, to statisticians, 
and to all those who make pretence to think that 
progress makes for happiness, and that the in- 
crease of wealth acts as a sort of blotting-pad 
on poverty, and sucks up grief. 

Dressed in their blue-serge jumpers, and 
sweating in the thick blue trousers and the am- 



TERROR 1 1 1 

munition boots which a paternal government 
deals out to them, so that their lightest step shall 
thunder on the pavement and give ill-doers a 
fair chance of stealing themselves away to safety, 
the police stood at the crossings and conversed 
in pairs, or, leaning against some iron railings, 
courted the servant girls, as they watched for the 
welfare of the sleeping town. A homing cab or 
two lurched wearily along, the horse and driver 
nodding in their respective situations, each of 
them conscious of having earned his meed of 
beer or corn. The bicyclist's sharp bell startled 
the swinkt pedestrian at the crossings, as the 
machine, vanguard of those which will soon 
sweep pedestrians from all streets, slipped noise- 
lessly along and vanished in the distance, its 
rider seeming to be suspended in the air as his 
legs worked like wings. 

From the windows of a distant house, the 
music of a valse floated out fitfully ; the shadows 
of the dancers turned as in a mist behind the 
glass ; outside, the group of waiting footmen 
lounged, and waifs and strays, leaning against 
the railings of the square, completed the grada- 
tions of society, thus seeming, by their presence, 
at the same time to act as foil to those inside, 



1 1.2 TERROR 

and yet unite them in the bonds of brotherhood 
and faith. 

The happy, rich, successful, vulgar- looking 
city, after the toils of business and of fashion, 
seemed to be taking its well-earned repose. 
A light night-breeze just stirred the dust upon 
the leaves of the black walnuts in the oblong 
square, shut at one end by the bulk of the long, 
cake-like church, with bell-tower pepper-box 
and portico, upon the* steps of which the high- 
heeled boots of fashionable worshippers had left 
the imprints of the first stage upon their journey 
towards their self-appointed place. 

Nothing on all the face of the quiet, well- 
regulated town seemed to be out of joint, for 
tramps and prostitutes have each their proper 
place in the Chinese puzzle of society, and it is 
possible, were they but removed, that institu- 
tions men deem honourable might find them- 
selves without a place. But nature, pitiless 
and ever on the watch, and seemingly intent to 
lower our pride whenever we look round com- 
placently upon our puny so-called scientific 
triumphs, by linking us inexorably to the other 
animals in all our passions and our feelings, was 
not asleep, 



TERROR I I 3 

Between some iron railings and a stretch of 
bare and stuccoed wall, some smoke-stained 
lilacs grew, their roots a lurking-place for cats 
and a receptacle for bones and empty tins, straws, 
and the scraps of newspapers which act as 
banners to our progress, driven by the wind. 
Right opposite this urban jungle, close to the 
curbstone, its head upon some horse-dung and 
its legs stretched out upon the little waves and 
inequalities of hardened mud left by the rain, 
lay the dead body of a white-and-yellow cat. 
Upon its staring coat, each individual hair, stiff 
with dry sweat and mud, stood out like frozen 
grass protruding from the snow. Its eyes stared 
glassy and distended, its legs and tail had taken 
the rigid forms of feline death, rendered more 
horrible by contrast with the subtle grace of life. 
Its body, swollen to twice its proper size, seemed 
just about to burst. 

Killed by a passing cab, or worried by a dog, 
or perhaps slain out of pure joy in death and 
love of field-sports by some sportsman to whom 
the jys of shooting elephants and giraffes were 
unattainable through lack of means, it lay, pend- 
ing the arrival of the dust-cart, as a memento mori 
to the young guardsman sauntering home in 

i 



114 TERROR 

evening dress, his coat upon his arm, but one 
step lower than the angels in the estimation of 
himself and of his friends. 

The grimy lilacs rustled and parted, and 
through the iron railings was stuck out a head. 
A body followed, squirming like a snake, and, 
with a squeal, a small black-and-white cat 
bounded upon the pavement, and stood staring 
at the body in the street. 

Poised lightly on its feet, arching its back a 
little, and its tail quivering as it slowly lashed its 
sides, it stood and gazed. With bristling hair 
and crouching low upon the ground, slowly it 
crawled towards the stiff dead cat, as if drawn 
by a magnet irresistibly ; its whiskers touched 
the body, and, as if horrified, it bounded back. 
Slowly it made a circuit, swelling, and visibly 
distraught with fear ; then, with a spring or two, 
took refuge on the pavement, but always looking 
at the object of its dread and quivering with 
fear. Backing, and with its eyes wide staring, 
it sought the shelter of the lilacs, but in an in- 
stant, with a squeal, bounced out again and 
rushed away, only to stop and once again to 
steal along up to the dead with every limb 
aquake, 



TERROR 1 1 5 

A fascination, such as seems to draw the eyes 
of women to some sight their nerves abhor, 
possessed it, and it lay down, purring, close to 
the corpse, stretched out a paw in horror, felt 
the cold flesh, and, shrieking, fled again into the 
street. Five or six times, it ventured close and 
shrunk away, unable, as it seemed, to leave the 
spot ; then lightly leaped from side to side, 
alighting with its legs as stiff as posts, like a 
horse buck -jumping, and, lastly, crouching once 
more its belly to the ground, retired into the 
shrubs. 

A drunkard howled a song, three or four semi- 
Hooligans lurched down the street, a carriage 
rattled by the kerb, the wheel crushing the body 
of the dead yellow cat, causing its entrails to 
protrude ; the spell was broken, the fascinated 
and terror-stricken black-and-white little cat 
ran swiftly up a wall, and, with a last long look 
into the street, was gone. 



12 



POSTPONED. 

CONVICTION, one might think, cometh neither 
from the east nor from the west. In fact, in 
many cases, it is a mere matter of digestion. 
Be that as it may, the Rev. Arthur Bannerman, 
a widower with two little girls, abruptly forsook 
the Anglican Communion and fell away to Rome. 
What were his real motives, perhaps even he 
himself could not have quite explained. A love 
of continuity; doubts as to the true and apos- 
tolical succession of orders transmitted at the 
Nag's Head; a lingering fear that the laity, if 
once admitted to the cup, might still exceed 
after the fashion of the early Christians at their 
feasts these causes may have accounted for the 
step. Or, again, they may have had but little 
influence, for most conversions spring from im- 
pulse rather than a due reasoning out of motives 
for the change of faith. 
The Rev. Bannerman (as most of his parishi- 



POSTPONED 117 

oners styled him) though a good man, was of a 
mean presence, with the fair hair, blue eyes, and 
freckled skin which, with a stutter and a shamble, 
fit a man for ministration to his fellows, or 
might enable him to burlesque himself with 
great effect upon the stage. Good and ridiculous, 
but lovable, he had a heart whose workings, 
obfuscated by the foibles of the outward man, 
beat like a bull-dog's. Some men seem born for 
heroes; so tall, so straight are they, their eyes 
so piercing and their gait so free, that it appears 
impossible when one learns that they are stock- 
brokers or chiropodists. Having run all the 
gamut of parochial duties in the English 
Churches, presided at the mothers* meeting, 
visited the poor, worn vestments, dabbled in the 
outskirts of Theosophy, and dallied with Spirit- 
ualism, Mr. Bannerman yet had found his life 
not full enough of sacrifice. By degrees his 
parsonage (twined round with roses, and with 
its glebe stretching away beyond the Saxon 
church into the lush meadows of the squire), his 
Jersey cow, even his cob, the faithful sharer of 
his rambles while studying the fossils of the 
neighbouring downs, the bobs and curtseys of 
the village children, the waving salutation of 



Il8 POSTPONED 

the smock- frocked boy who was "woful tired a 1 
scaring o' birds," all grew to be distasteful, and 
seemed chains which but attached him to a 
material world. 

How many men before the Rev. Arthur 
Bannerman have failed to see that there is 
nothing so materialistic as the mystic and the 
supernatural, and that the dullest duties of the 
dreariest parish are in reality more transcendental 
than the dreams of the theologist ? 

But into speculations of this nature he did not 
enter. Seeing his duty that is, his inclination 
straight ahead, he embraced it and the Roman 
Church. Then after the due steps (for once a 
Levite is to be a Levite to the end, no matter 
how wide apart is set the new faith from the old), 
he became a priest, more or less after the order 
of Melchizedek. A priest and still ridiculous 
never in time at Mass, stumbling about the 
confessional with furtive gait he seemed a 
tree transplanted from a cold soil into another 
hardly less uncongenial which stunts it in its 
growth. Still, the reliance on a hierarchy, the 
consciousness that he was (so to speak) in tele- 
phonic rapport with St. Peter and St. Paul, by 
way of Constantine, Charlemagne, Bernard of 



POSTPONED 119 

Clairvaux, the blessed bloody Mary, and the 
seminary priests slain by that paragon of virgins, 
stout Queen Bess (who wished to show that 
she was as zealous for her faith as was her 
sister), brought comfort to his heart. That is, 
to his intellectual heart; for now and then he 
thought upon his children, given away to a 
pious lady and brought up far from him with 
a view to convents, as if the marriage of their 
father before he knew the truth had rendered 
them unclean for ordinary intercourse with 
fellow beings, and only fit for God. So, in his 
communings with himself, at times his natural 
love strove strongly with his artificial and dog- 
matic instincts ; and after the fashion of all those 
who strive to conquer nature by the force of 
reason, he always thought that he did something 
praiseworthy when he choked down his tears, 
his longings, and everything which really, being 
natural, makes for righteousness. The children, 
far from their father, grew up half-bastard, half- 
legitimate, knowing their father's name, yet not 
allowed to mention him, as if their very being 
was a tacit scandal upon themselves and him. 
The pious lady loved them in a way, feeding 
them heavily, as kind-hearted but religious 



I2O POSTPONED 

people always do; making their lives a round 
of prayer, half looking on them as a scandal to 
the faith, and half regarding them as material 
evidence of her own strength of mind and free- 
dom from all petty prejudice. The children, 
duly called after Anglo-Saxon saints (having been 
baptized before the time when their father's 
eyes were opened), meekly bore the names of 
Edelwitha and Cunegunde and, though they 
loved their father, thought of him with the easy 
contempt accorded by the female sex to those 
who act on principle or form their conduct upon 
abstract lines. 

Seated among the other shavelings in his 
clergy-house, Mr. Bannerman was regarded as 
in the world one looks upon a man whose con- 
duct in his youth has been a little wild that is, 
with reprobation tempered by envy and respect. 
His fellows talked with him about the glorious 
days when England once again should own the 
Papal sway, the poor be fed at the monastery 
gate, the so-called Reformation be held a thing 
accursed, and statues be erected (at the national 
expense) to the twin saints of Smithfield, Bonner 
and Gardiner, of pious memory and of Christian 
renown. 



POSTPONED 121 

Much did the priest employ himself in parish 
work, having found that his conversion had 
changed the collar, but left the load as heavy as 
before ; much did he read the Fathers of the 
Church; much muse upon the Jesuits and all 
their works, and on the mystics of the Church in 
Spain, St. Peter of Alcantara, St. John of the 
Cross, St. Francis Borgia, and all the glorious 
band grouped round the Saint of Avila, who, as a 
colonel of artillery, ought to have been at Santi- 
ago when Cervera's fleet steamed from its 
" bottle" to destruction by the unbelievers' guns. 

The assiduity of the Church impressed him 
the missions in Alaska, in China, those of the 
Franciscans in Bolivia ; the curious rechris- 
tianisation of the faithful in Japan, those who 
without their priests maintained their faith two 
hundred years, until the faithful from the West 
revisited them. All the romance and mysticism 
of the sole enduring Christian sect amazed and 
strengthened him, entering into his spirit, and 
making him feel part and parcel of something 
stable, so pitched inside and out with such 
authority, that against its strength all the 
assaults of reason were foredoomed to fail. 

But still, the human virus in his blood, against 



122 POSTPONED 

whose promptings even churchmen at times have 
found their teaching no avail, simmered and 
effervesced, troubling his soul, and prompting 
questions whether his duty lay with his children 
rather than with the souls of men. After writh- 
ing all the night in tears, he would descant upon 
the wonders of the Church, and dwell (as con- 
verts who have left their hearts outside the 
Church, owing conversion to a reason or a senti- 
ment, will do) upon the comfort that he felt, the 
blessed calm of mind, the joy it was to know he 
could not doubt, and generally cheat himself 
with words, after the fashion of mankind, who 
always have from the first ages sought relief 
from facts and theories in rhapsodies, in mysti- 
cism, striving to build a wall of cobwebs up 
between that which they knew, and that they 
wished to be the case. What wall so strong as 
cobwebs, or what so easily renewed when broken 
down ? The substance, equally applicable to a 
cut finger and to a broken heart, is your best 
mental hint. 

But, when a Protestant charity girls' school 
passed by, robed in their shoddy capes and scanty 
skirts, and sheltered by their pre-Victorian brown 
straw hats, with pale blue ribbons hanging down 



POSTPONED 123 

their backs or when a nurse, with children 
bowling hoops, walked down the streets the 
Rev. Arthur Bannerman found his cross heavy 
on his neck, and hoped the road to Golgotha 
was short. But yet he steeled himself ; thinking 
that, as a year or two had passed, the children 
must have forgotten him; hoping that time 
would bring relief both to himself and them. 
Then, after the way of good and foolish men, 
he thought himself to blame, exclaimed aloud 
upon his weakness, redoubled work and prayers, 
and threw himself in agony of spirit upon the 
ground, grasping his cross after the fashion of 
the penitents in early Flemish pictures, but 
without finding rest. 

At times he wandered passed the villa where, 
in the odour of respectability, his children lived, 
half hoping to catch sight of them, and half 
expecting that a miracle would keep them from 
his sight ; and then, becoming suddenly aware 
of his transgression, would hurry through the 
street as if the whole world depended on his 
arriving at some place whose whereabouts he 
could not ascertain. By degrees he grew still 
more eccentric, still more ridiculous ; for sorrow 
seldom gives dignity, but, on the contrary, brings 



124 POSTPONED 

out our petty foibles, and makes us sport for 
fools, as if the whole world had been created in 
a fit of spleen, and a malignant demon looked 
out mockingly upon our woes. Occasionally 
the priest would start his mass in English, break 
off and stop, and then begin on a wrong note, 
taxing the gravity of the choir and of the faithful 
in the Church, and drawing from the Irish wor- 
shippers who clustered round the door, in the 
sort of " leper's squint " in which the economies 
of the Church usually give them places, the re- 
mark that "The Divil had put a mortial sprad- 
dle on his Riverence's spache." At times in the 
confessional his memory played him false ; and 
girls who had accused themselves of gluttony, of 
telling falsehoods, or any other futile uninterest- 
ing sin of youthful and inexperienced penitents, 
were rebuked with sternness, told to repent and 
make their peace with outraged husbands, and 
sent giggling away. These lapses did not detract 
a whit from the affection in which his congrega- 
tion (especially the children, and those who are to 
inherit all the earth while millionaires lie howling) 
held him ; for they all knew the priest for a kind 
poor soul, even as a horse discounts an indifferent 
rider before the man has got upon his back. 



POSTPONED 125 

At last the Rev. Arthur Bannerman found 
his strength waning ; and on a day he approached 
the villa where the lady who had taken the care 
of his two children on herself dwelt, in the 
glories of plate-glass, an araucaria (imbricata), 
trim gravel walks, and yellow calceolarias, all duly 
separated from the next-door neighbour by a 
wall blinded by a privet hedge. Twice did he 
pace the street, passing through vistas of plate- 
glass and araucarias ; reading the styles and 
titles of the houses, as " Beau Sejour," " Sea 
View," and " Qui Si Sana " ; admiring the im- 
agination of the nomenclature as a condemned 
criminal may admire the judge's wig and the 
paltry sword of justice over the bench, or as a 
patient, seated in the dental surgeon's chair, 
scans the heraldic figures on the window, which 
reflects a bluish glare upon his face, while he, 
gripping the arms of the chair, perspires in 
terror, as the dentist fumbles for his tools. 
Twice did he catch himself entering at the 
wrong gate ; and when at last he stood before 
the hedge of bay trees and euonymus which, 
like a fig leaf, covered the mysteries of the in- 
terior garden plot of Beau Sejour from the public 
gaze, he trembled and perspired. 



126 POSTPONED 

On the exterior gate the name was writ in 
brass above the letter-box, a wire communicat- 
ing with the inside forming (as it were) a tele- 
graph between the outer world and the interior 
graces of the house. He paused and chewed a 
dusty bay leaf, and then rang fitfully and waited 
at the gate. Three times he rang, waiting while 
butcher boys passed the time of day with bakers 
cycling their daily bread to residents along the 
street. At last the gate flew open suddenly, sur- 
prising him, and causing him to drop his umbrella 
in the mud. Then, advancing on the crunching 
gravel path, he passed between the stucco urns 
in which twin iron cactuses bloomed perennially, 
and gained the porch, the housemaid waiting 
with the door half-opened in her hand. Ushered 
into the dining-room, and left to contemplate the 
horsehair sofa, and the plated biscuit-box em- 
bedded in its woolly mat upon the sideboard, 
the black slab clock upon the mantelpiece, the 
views of Cader Idris and the Trossachs in washy 
water-colours on the walls, he sat expectant, 
thinking each moment that his children might 
rush in, or that at least he might catch their 
footsteps on the stairs, or hear them singing in 
the upper regions of the house. 



POSTPONED 127 

The interval which passed while Mrs. Mac- 
namara was employed in preparation of mind 
and body for the interview seemed to him mor- 
tal. The lady rustled in, perturbed, but kindly ; 
and the poor priest began to tell her of his 
struggles, and the consuming longing which had 
come over him to see his children, and to hold 
them on his knee. After much weeping on both 
sides, and offers of clean pocket-handkerchiefs 
(" For yours is so damp, ye'll get a cold with 
using it "), the priest became more calm. Then 
did the kindly Irishwoman reason with him, and 
put before him that it was better to let things 
take their course, telling him that the girls were 
happy, and that she loved them as they had 
been her own, and pointing out to him what 
would ensue if he persisted in his wish. 

Some time he pondered on her words, strain- 
ing his ears as a horse strains when listening 
for a distant sound, to catch even a footstep of 
the children on the stairs. Then, calm, but 
snuffling, he choked down his tears, and with an 
effort said, " God bless you ! I think I'll wait to 
see them till the Judgment Day." 

He took his leave, and left the house com- 
posed and cheerful, whistling a lively air, all out 



128 POSTPONED 

of tune, and, passing by the Irish beggar-woman 
at her customary post, gave her a half-penny, 
which she received with thanks and a due sense 
of the benefit which alms bring down upon the 
soul of him who gives. Then looking after him, 
she broke into professional blessings, and ex- 
claimed, " By the holy Paul, his Riverence 
looks so cheerful, sure the ' good people ' must 
have been with him this morning, just at the 
birth of day." 



LONDON. 

11 BUDDHA wishes the child health, riches, and 
prosperity, that she may have no enemies, enjoy 
good fortune, and be a comfort to her parents 
in their old age. May she be as pure and as 
lovely as these flowers ; and I the headman of 
the Cingalese here present, after the custom of 
our country, call the child after the city she was 
born in, London." 

Then the mother knelt before a figure of 
Buddha, and the headman sprinkled her with 
rose leaves, which fell upon her like flakes of 
scented snow ; and all around an Earl's Court 
crowd, composed of what is styled the ' general 
public," looked on and gaped. The little band 
of Cingalese no doubt were part and parcel of 
the general public of Ceylon. They formed a 
brownish-whitish group, dressed in their unsub- 
stantial hot-country clothes; their thin brown 
hands, and semi-prehensile feet, unused to boots, 

K 



1 3O LONDON 

contrasting strangely with the hands and feet of 
all around them. 

In the midst the little London, about as 
big as a young monkey, with large black eyes as 
preternaturally grave as are the eyes of all the 
Eastern races, who never emerge from child- 
hood all their lives. Not that their eternal 
childhood keeps them free from lies and theft, 
for these are attributes of children, but it pre- 
serves them largely from hypocrisy, and from 
commerce, the worst of all the crimes that man- 
kind suffers from; that is, of course, successful 
commerce, for the commerce of the East is so 
entirely futile in its villainy as to be almost 
harmless, even to those it cheats. 

At Kandy, or Colombo, or by some village 
hidden in the forests, or on the margin of a rice- 
swamp, the relatives all in good time will learn 
the news, and how the child was named ; and 
they will know of all the wonders of the great 
city, seen, so to speak, without perspective, and 
distorted through the medium of the teller's 
mind. A stucco city, where it is always dark, 
upon a river which flows liquid mud, and yet so 
rich the very beggars have their three meals a 
day. The residence of the great Queen, she who 



LONDON 131 

is Empress; and of Madame Tussaud, the great 
magician, who makes copies of all men and 
women, just as they are in life, and by her art 
preserves them, so that they never die that is, 
those who are once included in her palace never 
die, for it costs sixpence to enter and to see, and 
those who write have entered (after the payment) 
and have seen. 

Much they will hear about the wondrous 
Western life, so different to their own, and framed 
apparently without regard to anything that they 
consider common-sense. The streets of houses 
forming great stucco drains, the noise which ceases 
not ; the atmosphere impregnated with particles 
of coal and horse-dung; the rush, the hurry, the 
sameness of the people, all so alike, that to a 
Cingalese they all seem brothers; the curious 
justice so ingeniously contrived as to appear the 
grossest tyranny, or at best a nightmare all 
will in the due fulness of the post arrive, and 
will be read by the letter-writer in the evening 
under the mango trees. Girls carrying water 
in long earthen jars, the wandering beggars, the 
herdsmen bringing home the kine, the elders of 
the place, the monkeys seated on the neighbour- 
ing trees, all will give ear and comment (the 

K 2 



132 LONDON 

monkeys loudest and with perhaps more em- 
phasis than all the rest), and then, the letter 
ended, silence and the sadness of the evening will 
descend on all. These things, such a strange 
country, and the lucky child, will be the themes 
of conversation for many days, until the salt-tax, 
the want of water, the failing crops, the locusts, 
or that standing topic in the East, the price of 
bread, will once again hold sway. 

But in the wondrous West, London, and 
all her family, going from town to town, from 
hideous capital to hideous capital, will sit in 
"exhibitions," and make believe to spin, to 
weave, to carve, or exercise some of the simple 
Eastern arts ; all preternaturally grave, all mark- 
ing everything they see in a distorted way, like 
faces seen in water, or like a landscape in a black 
mirror with the shadows all reversed. Nothing 
so saddening as to see an animal mewed in a 
public garden in a cage, walking about and turn- 
ing at the corner of his den with a quick whirl, 
whilst the intelligent spectators read his Latin 
name and grin at him ; except it be the miserable 
"native," giving, on a rainy day, within the 
fetid atmosphere of an "exhibition" (admission 
sixpence), a counterfeit presentment of arts and 



LONDON 133 

industries which should be carried on in the full 
blaze of sun. 

So in the various towns, and in the stifling 
exhibitions, growing up, squatted at sham 
work before the eternal crowds of unintelligent 
and unappreciative civilised spectators, the 
little London expanded gradually from the al- 
most simian childhood of the Easterns into pre- 
cocious womanhood. And in Ceylon, upon the 
rare occasions when the cares of daily life left 
time for conversation, and thoughts of those who 
in the magic West were coining gold, no doubt a 
vision of the growing London haunted her kins- 
folk as of a countrywoman of their own, but rich, 
both in possessions and the wondrous knowledge 
of the West. A glorious vision of a being know- 
ing how telegraphs and telephones are worked, 
and how the power is lent by steam to iron 
carriages, those devil-invented engines which 
snort through the forests, and, best of all, re- 
spected by, almost an equal of, the Europeans 
amongst whom she lived. A vision of a glorious 
half Eastern, half European London (oh, the 
strange name!) appeared to them. But in the 
atmosphere of eternal fog she grew up neither 
a European nor an Eastern, chattering cockney 



134 LONDON 

English and bad French, blanched for the want 
of sun, as orchids grown in greenhouses are 
blanched, and never look the least like what 
they appear when clinging to the trees in Para- 
guayan or in Venezuelan wilds. Knowledge, of 
course, she had, especially of evil, for the " ex- 
hibition" is, in its interior human view, chiefly 
remarkable as a meeting place of the most diverse 
races of mankind, all thrown together without 
the restraining influence of their respective 
fetishes. But though the school board, benevo- 
lent and wooden-headed, had done its task up 
to some standard of obligatory non- excellence, 
still little London remained a doubtful native, 
yet, after the fashion of a rare hot-country weed 
reared in an English garden as a flower, and 
become wild again in some half favourable 
soil. 

Not quite an Eastern, and still less a Euro- 
pean, without the Oriental grace, and with the 
European stolidity, which, with the northern 
races, makes up for cunning and quick witted- 
ness, London remained a sort of "exhibition" 
gipsy, always a foreigner wherever she might go. 
An Oriental in all prejudices, and in appearance, 
but so to speak only at second-hand, and a true 



LONDON 135 

European but as regards her clothes, and the 
accomplishments of reading, writing, and the 
like, forced on her by the school board, and 
acquired against her will, and in despite of the 
opposition of her family to such unwomanly 
pursuits. Thin and still undeveloped, with the 
unstable looking bust of Oriental women when 
dressed in European clothes, and the small, 
simian feet which in her case were not a beauty, 
but in her cheap, ill-fitting shoes only ridiculous, 
she grew to womanhood. 

The impertinence of those who, from the 
theological fortress of their black rusty clothes, 
presumed to talk about a thing so ethereal as 
should be a soul, rendered her life at times a 
misery. These would-be savers of her soul 
had no idea that in such matters Eastern 
women have no part ; for souls and philosophi- 
cal discussions, with shoemaking and bullock- 
driving, are affairs of men, and women have 
their work in other ways, spinning and weav- 
ing, bearing their children, and doing that which 
since the beginning of the (Eastern) world has 
always been their lot. But yet the fact of being 
noticed, to an outcast such as perforce must 
be the exhibition-bred transplanted Oriental, is 



LONDON 

better than neglect. And so she passed her 
life, superior in knowledge to her parents, and 
inferior to them in manual dexterity at the trade 
at which they worked. 

Then came the fitful fever of the blood which 
humorists call love. Love, the ennobling, the 
passion which takes us out of our common 
nature, and raises us to heights of self-abnegation; 
love, the magician, the strongest passion in our 
nature, sung of by poets, etherealised by writers, 
and which has given our men of science so many 
opportunities for pathologic study in our hospitals 
and streets. Cupid revealed himself to London, 
as he reveals himself so often, in a disguise, 
perhaps because most women cannot well bear 
the god's full blaze of beauty, or perhaps because 
the god himself takes many incarnations and 
strange shapes. So her brief union with a Zulu 
brought her no joy, and left her with a monstrous 
child, stamped from its birth with the misshapen 
limbs which children born of such ill-assorted 
parents generally have. 

Desertion and the streets, drink and disease, 
and then the hospital and the thin body of the 
Earl's Court Cingalese lay in the mortuary, the 
knees and elbows making sharp angles in the 



LONDON 137 

covering sheet. The headman's blessing, per- 
haps from having been pronounced outside the 
influence, or on uncongenial soil to Buddha, had 
been ineffectual, and the Western life too power- 
ful for the Oriental born within its pale. The 
flickering corpse-candle of the brief life had failed 
in the full glare of the electric light. 

All in good time the news of her decease was 
duly notified to the surviving relations in their 
village in Ceylon. They read it, apathetic but 
incredulous, being aware that no one ever dies, 
but is absorbed in the air of the place wherein 
the body and soul separate. So in the vast 
conglomerate of villages, the stucco labyrinth, 
built on the clay where day and night the myriads 
come and go, as little conscious of each other's 
presence as of the footprints on the pavement, 
which all of them must leave, where the foul 
atmosphere of sweat and dust and the scent 
rising from millions of animals and men com- 
mingle in the air, no doubt some particles of 
little London float. Or it may be (for after all 
it is but faith) her soul looks down contentedly 
upon the dingy crowd, and surveys happily the 
butcher-boys, the nursery-maids, and all the 
waifs and strays who flatten their bodies on 



138 LONDON 

the rails and crane their heads to view the 
police recruits being drilled upon the guards' 
parade-ground, whilst a few drummer boys 
stand by and criticise. 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT. 

THE bustle on the Euston platform stopped for 
an instant to let the men who carried him to the 
third class compartment pass along the train. 
Gaunt and emaciated, he looked just at death's 
door, and, as they propped him in the carriage 
between two pillows, he faintly said, " Jock, do 
ye thing I'll live as far as Moffat ? I should na' 
like to die in London in the smoke." 

His cockney wife, drying her tears with a 
cheap hem-stitched pocket handkerchief, her 
scanty town-bred hair looking like wisps of tow 
beneath her hat, bought from some window in 
which each individual article was marked at 
seven-and-sixpence, could only sob. His bro- 
ther, with the country sun and wind burn still 
upon his face, and his huge hands hanging like 
hams in front of him, made answer. 

" Andra," he said, " gin ye last as far as Beat- 
tock, we'll gie ye a braw hurl back to the farm, 



I4O BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

syne the bask air, ye ken, and the milk, and, and 
but can ye last as far as Beattock, Andra ? " 

The sick man, sitting with the cold sweat 
upon his face, his shrunken limbs looking like 
sticks inside his ill-made black slop suit, after 
considering the proposition on its merits, looked 
up, and said, " I should na 1 like to bet I feel fair 
boss, God knows ; but there, the mischief of it 
is, he will na' tell ye, so that, as ye may say, his 
knowlidge has na commercial value. I ken I 
look as gash as Garscadden. Ye mind, Jock, 
in the braw auld times, when the auld laird just 
slipped awa', whiles they were birlin' at the 
clairet. A braw death, Jock ... do ye 
think it'll be rainin' aboot Ecclefechan ? Aye 
. . . sure to be rainin' aboot Lockerbie. 
Nae Christians there, Jock, a' Johnstones and 
Jardines, ye mind? " 

The wife, who had been occupied with an air 
cushion, and, having lost the bellows, bad been 
blowing into it till her cheeks seemed almost 
bursting, and her false teeth were loosened in 
her head, left off her toil to ask her husband 
" If 'e could pick a bit of something, a porkpie, 
or a nice sausage roll, or something tasty," which 
she could fetch from the refreshment room. The 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

invalid having declined to eat, and his brother 
having drawn from his pocket a dirty bag, in 
which were peppermints, gave him a "drop," 
telling him that he " minded he aye used to like 
them weel, when the meenister had fairly got 
into his prelection in the auld kirk, outby." 

The train slid almost imperceptibly away, the 
passengers upon the platform looking after it 
with that half foolish, half astonished look with 
which men watch a disappearing train. Then 
a few sandwich papers rose with the dust 
almost to the level of the platform, sank again, 
the clock struck twelve, and the station fell into 
a half quiescence, like a volcano in the interval 
between the lava showers. Inside the third 
class carriage all was quiet until the lights of 
Harrow shone upon the left, when the sick man, 
turning himself with difficulty, said, " Good-bye, 
Harrow-on-the-Hill. I aye liked Harrow for 
the hill's sake, tho' ye can scarcely ca' yon wee 
bit mound a hill, Jean." 

His wife, who, even in her grief, still smarted 
under the Scotch variant of her name, which all 
her life she had pronounced as " Jayne," and 
who, true cockney as she was, bounded her 
world within the lines of Plaistow, Peckham 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

Rye, the Welch 'Arp ('Endon way), and Willes- 
den, moved uncomfortably at the depreciation of 
the chief mountain in her kosmos, but held her 
peace. Loving her husband in a sort of half 
antagonistic fashion, born of the difference of 
type between the hard, unyielding, yet humor- 
ous and sentimental Lowland Scot, and the 
conglomorate of all races of the island which 
meet in London, and produce the weedy, shallow 
breed, almost incapable of reproduction, and yet 
high strung and nervous, there had arisen be- 
tween them that intangible veil of misconception 
which, though not excluding love, is yet imper- 
vious to respect. Each saw the other's failings, 
or, perhaps, thought the good qualities which 
each possessed were faults, for usually men judge 
each other by their good points, which, seen 
through prejudice of race, religion, and surround- 
ings, appear to them defects. 

The brother, who but a week ago had left his 
farm unwillingly, just when the " neeps were 
wantin' heughin' and a feck o' things requirin' 
to be done, forby a puckle sheep waitin' for 
keelin','' to come and see his brother for the last 
time, sat in that dour and seeming apathetic 
attitude which falls upon the country man, torn 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 143 

from his daily toil, and plunged into a town. 
Most things in London, during the brief inter- 
vals he had passed away from the sick bed, 
seemed foolish to him, and of a nature such as a 
self-respecting Moffat man, in the hebdomadal 
enjoyment of the " prelections " of a Free Church 
minister could not authorise. 

" Man, saw ye e'er a carter sittin' on his cart, 
and drivin' at a trot, instead o' walkin' in a pro- 
per manner alangside his horse ? " had been his 
first remark. 

The short-tailed sheep dogs, and the way they 
worked, the inferior quality of the cart horses, 
their shoes with hardly any calkins worth the 
name, all was repugnant to him. 

On Sabbath, too, he had received a shock, for, 
after walking miles to sit under the " brither of 
the U.P. minister at Symington," he had found 
Erastian hymn books in the pews, and noticed 
with stern reprobation that the congregation 
stood to sing, and that, instead of sitting solidly 
whilst the " man wrastled in prayer," stooped 
forward in the fashion called the Nonconformist 
lounge. 

His troubled spirit had received refreshment 
from the sermon, which, though short, and ex- 



144 BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

tending to but some fi ve-and-forty minutes, had 
still been powerful, for he said : 

" When yon wee, shilpit meenister brither, 
ye ken, of rantin' Ferguson, out by Symington 
shook the congregation ower the pit mouth, ye 
could hae fancied that the very sowls in hell just 
girned. Man, he garred the very stour to flee 
aboot the kirk, and, hadna' the big book been 
weel brass banded, he would hae dang the 
haricles fair oot." 

So the train slipped past Watford, swaying 
round the curves like a gigantic serpent, and 
jolting at the facing points as a horse " pecks " 
in his gallop at an obstruction in the ground. 

The moon shone brightly into the compart* 
ment, extinguishing the flickering of the half- 
candle power electric light. Rugby, the station 
all lit up, and with its platforms occupied but by 
a few belated passengers, all muffled up like 
race horses taking their exercise, flashed past. 
They slipped through Cannock Chase, which 
stretches down with heath and firs, clear braw- 
ling streams, and birch trees, an out-post of the 
north lost in the midland clay. They crossed 
the oily Trent, flowing through alder copses, 
and with its backwaters all overgrown with 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

lilies, like an " aguapey " in Paraguay or in 
Brazil. 

The sick man, wrapped in cheap rugs, and 
sitting like Guy Fawkes, in the half comic, half 
pathetic way that sick folk sit, making them 
sport for fools, and, at the same time, moisten- 
ing the eye of the judicious, who reflect that 
they themselves may one day sit as they do, 
bereft of all the dignity of strength, looked list- 
lessly at nothing as the train sped on. His 
loving, tactless wife, whose cheap " sized " hand- 
kerchief had long since become a rag with mop- 
ping up her tears, endeavoured to bring round 
her husband's thoughts to paradise, which she 
conceived a sort of music hall, where angels sat 
with their wings folded, listening to sentimental 
songs. 

Her brother-in-law, reared on the fiery faith of 
Moffat Calvinism, eyed her with great disfavour, 
as a terrier eyes a rat imprisoned in a cage. 

11 Jean wumman," he burst out, " to hear ye 
talk, I would jist think your meenister had been 
a perfectly illeeterate man, pairadise here, paira- 
dise there, what do ye think a man like Andra 
could dae daunderin* aboot a gairden naked, 
pu'in soor aipples frae the trees ? " 

L 



146 BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

Cockney and Scotch conceit, impervious alike 
to outside criticism, and each so bolstered in its 
pride as to. be quite incapable of seeing that 
anything existed outside the purlieus of their 
sight, would soon have made the carriage into a 
battle-field, had not the husband, with the 
authority of approaching death, put in his word. 

" Whist, Jeanie wumman. Jock, dae ye no ken 
that the Odium-Theologicum is just a curse 
pairadise set ye baith up pairadise. I dinna* 
even richtly ken if I can last as far as Beattock." 

Stafford, its iron furnaces belching out flames, 
which burned red holes into the night, seemed 
to approach, rather than be approached, so 
smoothly ran the train. The mingled moonlight 
and the glare of iron-works lit the canal be- 
side the railway, and from the water rose white 
vapours as from Styx or Periphlegethon. 
Through Cheshire ran the train, its timbered 
houses showing ghastly in the frost which 
coated all the carriage windows, and rendered 
them opaque. Preston, the catholic city, lay 
silent in the night, its river babbling through 
the public park, and then the hills of Lanca- 
shire loomed lofty in the night. Past Garstang, 
with its water-lily-covered ponds, Garstang 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 147 

where, in the days gone by, catholic squires, 
against their will, were forced on Sundays to 
" take wine " in Church on pain of fine, the 
puffing serpent slid. 

The talk inside the carriage had given place 
to sleep, that is, the brother-in-law and wife 
slept fitfully, but the sick man looked out, 
counting the miles to Moffat, and speculating on 
his strength. Big drops of sweat stood on his 
forehead, and his breath came double, whistling 
through his lungs. 

They passed by Lancaster, skirting the sea 
on which the moon shone bright, setting the 
fishing boats in silver as they lay scarcely mov- 
ing on the waves. Then, so to speak, the train 
set its face up against Shap Fell, and, puffing 
heavily, drew up into the hills, the scattered 
grey stone houses of the north, flanked by their 
gnarled and twisted ash trees, hanging upon the 
edge of the streams, as lonely, and as cut off 
from the world (except the passing train) as they 
had been in Central Africa. The moorland 
roads, winding amongst the heather, showed 
that the feet of generations had marked them 
out, and not the line, spade, and theodolite, with 
all the circumstance of modern road makers. 

L 2 



148 BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

They, too, looked white and unearthly in the 
moonlight, and now and then a sheep, aroused 
by the snorting of the train, moved from the 
heather into the middle of the road, and stood 
there motionless, its shadow filling the narrow 
track, and flickering on the heather at the edge. 

The keen and penetrating air of the hills and 
night roused the two sleepers, and they began 
to talk, after the Scottish fashion, of the funeral, 
before the anticipated corpse. 

" Ye ken, we've got a braw new hearse outby, 
sort of Epescopalian lookin', we' gless a' roond, 
so's ye can see the kist. Very conceity too, they 
mak' the hearses noo-a-days. I min' when they 
were jist auld sort o' ruckly boxes, awfu' licht, 
ye ken upon the springs, and just went dodder- 
in' alang, the body swinging to and fro, as if it 
would flee richt oot. The roads, ye ken, were no 
nigh hand so richtly metalled in thae days." 

The subject of the conversation took it cheer- 
fully, expressing pleasure at the advance of pro- 
gress as typefied in the new hearse, hoping his 
brother had a decent " stan' o' black," and look- 
ing at his death, after the fashion of his kind, as 
it were something outside himself, a fact indeed, 
on which, at the same time, he could express 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 149 

himself with confidence as being in some mea- 
sure interested. His wife, not being Scotch, took 
quite another view, and seemed to think that 
the mere mention of the word was impious, or, 
at the least, of such a nature as to bring on 
immediate dissolution, holding the English 
theory that unpleasant things should not be 
mentioned, and that, by this means, they can be 
kept at bay. Half from affection, half from the 
inborn love of cant, inseparable from the true 
Anglo-Saxon, she endeavoured to persuade her 
husband that he looked better, and yet would 
mend, once in his native air. 

"At Moffit, ye'd 'ave the benefit of the 'ill 
breezes, and that 'ere country milk, which never 
'as no cream in it, but 'olesome, as you say. Why 
yuss, in about eight days at Moffit, you'll be as 
'earty as you ever was. Yuss, you will, you 
take my word." 

Like a true Londoner, she did not talk religion, 
being too thin in mind and body even to have 
grasped the dogma of any of the sects. Her 
Heaven a music 'all, her paradise to see the king 
drive through the streets, her literary pleasure 
to read lies in newspapers, or pore on novelettes, 
which showed her the pure elevated lives of 



I5O BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

duchesses, placing the knaves and prostitutes 
within the limits of her own class ; which view of 
life she accepted as quite natural, and as a thing 
ordained to be by the bright stars who write. 

Just at the Summit they stopped an instant 
to let a goods train pass, and, in a faint voice, 
the consumptive said, "I'd almost lay a wager 
now I'd last to Moffat, Jock. The Shap, ye 
ken, I aye looked at as the beginning of the 
run home. The hills, ye ken, are sort 'o heart- 
some. No that they're bonny hills like Moffat 
hills, na', na', ill-shapen sort of things, just like 
Borunty tatties, awfu' puir names too, Shap 
Fell and Rowland Edge, Hutton Roof Crags, 
and Arnside Fell ; heard ever ony body sich like 
names for hills? Naething to fill the mooth; 
man, the Scotch hills jist grap ye in the mooth 
for a' the world like speerits." 

They stopped at Penrith, which the old castle 
walls make even meaner, in the cold morning 
light, than other stations look. Little Sal- 
keld, and Armathwaite, Cotehill, and Scotby 
all rushed past, and the train, slackening, 
stopped with a jerk upon the platform, at Car- 
lisle. The sleepy porters bawled out "change 
for Maryport," some drovers slouched into car- 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

riages, kicking their dogs before them, and, 
slamming to the doors, exchanged the time 
of day with others of their tribe, all carrying 
ash or hazel sticks, all red faced and keen eyed, 
their caps all crumpled, and their great-coat tails 
all creased, as if their wearers had laid down to 
sleep full dressed, so as to lose no time in getting 
to the labours of the day. The old red sandstone 
church, with something of a castle in its look, as 
well befits a shrine close to a frontier where in 
days gone by the priest had need to watch and 
pray, frowned on the passing train, and on the 
manufactories, whose banked up fires sent poi- 
sonous fumes into the air, withering the trees 
which, in the public park, a careful council had 
hedged round about with wire. 

The Eden ran from bank to bank, its water 
swirling past as wildly as when * The Bauld 
Buccleugh " and his Moss Troopers, bearing 
" the Kinmount " fettered in their midst, plunged 
in and passed it, whilst the keen Lord Scroope 
stood on the brink amazed and motionless, 
Gretna, so close to England, and yet a thou- 
sand miles away in speech and feeling, found 
the sands now flying through the glass. All 
through the mosses which once were the "De- 



152 BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

bateable Land" on which the moss-troopers 
of the clan Graeme were used to hide the 
cattle stolen from the "auncient enemy," the 
now repatriated Scotchman murmured feebly 
"that it was bonny scenery" although a drearier 
prospect of "moss hags" and stunted birch trees 
is not to be found. At Ecclefechan he just 
raised his head, and faintly spoke of "yon auld 
carle, Carlyle, ye ken, a dour thrawn body, but 
a gran' pheelosopher," and then lapsed into 
silence, broken by frequent struggles to take 
breath. 

His wife and brother sat still, and eyed him 
as a cow watches a locomotive engine pass, 
amazed and helpless, and he himself had but the 
strength to whisper "Jock, I'm dune, I'll no' see 
Moffat, blast it, yon smoke, ye ken, yon London 
smoke has been ower muckle for ma lungs." 

The tearful, helpless wife, not able even to 
pump up the harmful and unnecessary con- 
ventional lie, which after all, consoles only the 
liar, sat pale and limp, chewing the fingers of 
her Berlin gloves. Upon the weather-beaten 
cheek of Jock glistened a tear, which he brushed 
off as angrily as it had been a wasp. 

"Aye, Andra'" he said, "I would hae liket 



BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 153 

awfu 1 weel that ye should win to Moffat. Man, 
the rowan trees are a 1 in bloom, and there's a 
bonny breer upon the corn aye, ou aye, the 
reid bogs are lookin' gran' the year but Andra', 
I'll tak' ye east to the auld kirk yaird, ye'll no 1 
ken onything aboot it, but we'll hae a heart- 
some funeral." 

Lockerbie seemed to fly towards them, and 
the dying Andra' smiled as his brother pointed 
out the place and said, <4 Ye mind, there are no 
ony Christians in it," and answered, " Aye, I 
mind, naething but Jardines," as he fought for 
breath. 

The death dews gathered on his forehead as 
the train shot by Nethercleugh, passed Wamph- 
ray, and Dinwoodie, and with a jerk pulled up 
at Beattock just at the summit of the pass. 

So in the cold spring morning light, the fine 
rain beating on the platform, as the wife and 
brother got their almost speechless care out of 
the carriage, the brother whispered, " Dam't, 
ye've done it, Andra', here's Beattock; I'll tak 1 
ye east to Moffat yet to dee." 

But on the platform, huddled on the bench to 
which he had been brought, Andra' sat speech- 
less and dying in the rain. The doors banged 



154 BEATTOCK FOR MOFFAT 

to, the guard stepping in lightly as the train flew 
past, and a belated porter shouted, "Beattock, 
Beattock for Moffat," and then, summoning his 
his last strength, Andra' smiled, and whispered 
faintly in his brother's ear, "Aye, Beattock for 
Moffat?" Then his head fell back, and a faint 
bloody foam oozed from his pallid lips. His wife 
stood crying helplessly, the rain beating upon 
the flowers of her cheap hat, rendering it shape- 
less and ridiculous. But Jock, drawing out a 
bottle, took a short dram and saying, "Andra', 
man, ye made a richt gude fecht o' it," snorted 
an instant in a red pocket handkerchief, and 
calling up a boy, said, "Rin, Jamie, to the toon, 
and tell McNicol to send up and fetch a corp." 
Then, after helping to remove the body to the 
waiting room, walked out into the rain, and, 
whistling "Corn Rigs" quietly between his teeth 
lit up his pipe, and muttered as he smoked " A 
richt gude fecht man aye, ou aye, a game yin 
Andra', puir felly. Weel, weel, he'll hae a braw 
hurl onyway in the new Moffat hearse." 



A FISHERMAN. 

THE steamer scrunched against the pier, the 
gangway plank was drawn back slowly, and 
with as great an effort as it had weighed a 
ton, by the West Highland tweed-clad semi- 
sailors, semi-longshore men. The little groups 
of drovers separated, each following its fugleman 
to the nearest public-house. The ropes were 
cast off from the belaying pins, and whisked like 
serpents over the slippery slime-covered boards : 
a collie dog holding on to one of them by its 
teeth was dragged to the very edge, amongst a 
shower of Gaelic oaths. 

Then with a snort and plunge the " Islesman" 
met the south-west swell coming up past Pladda 
from the Mull. The wandering Willie, with his 
fiddle in a green baize bag, stripped off its cover, 
and got to work in the wild wind and drizzling 
rain, at reels, strathspeys, laments, and all the 
minor music which has from immemorial time 



156 A FISHERMAN 

been our delight in Scotland, although, no doubt, 
it is as terrifying to the Southern as when the 
bagpipes skirl. His dog beside him, a mere 
mongrel, looking like a dirty mop, and yet with 
something half pathetic, half ridiculous about 
him, sat holding round his neck a battered can 
for pence. The fiddler, bandy-legged and dressed 
in heather mixture tweed, which gave out fumes 
of peat reek, snuff, and stale whisky, stood by 
the forebits, and round him clustered all the 
heterogeneous "heids and thraws" of the popu- 
lation of the West Highlands, Glasgow and 
Greenock, and the other towns upon the Firth 
of Clyde. Gently the steamer glided through 
the Kyles of Bute, left Toward Point on her 
port bow, and headed for Dunoon. And as she 
steamed along, passing the varied scenery of 
mist-capped mountain, and of stormy loch, the 
peaks of Arran in the distance like a gigantic 
saddle hung outlined in the clouds. The pass- 
engers, for the most part, seemed to see nothing 
but each other's clothes and personal defects, 
after the fashion of so many travellers, who, with 
their shells of prejudice borne on their backs as 
they were snails, go out to criticise that which 
they could have seen to just as great advantage 



A FISHERMAN 157 

in their homes. Amongst them was a man 
dressed in a greasy "stan* o' black," who, at 
first sight, appeared to be what we in Scotland 
call a "goin* aboot body," and recognise as 
having quite a status in the land. His clothes, 
originally black, had borne the labour, whisky, 
and the rain of many a funeral. He did not seem 
a townsman, for he had that wizened, weather- 
beaten look which, once a sailor, never leaves a 
man this side the grave. At once you saw that 
he had made his bread in ships, or boats, or in 
some way upon that element on which those who 
go down to it in brigs "smell hell," as the old 
shellback said who heard the passage in the 
Bible on the wonders of the deep. 

Hard bread it is; damned hard, as the old 
admiral told his sacred majesty, the fourth 
William, who asked him whether he had been 
bred up to the sea. 

The nondescript, at least, cared not an atom 
for the others on the boat, but seemed to know 
each inlet, stone, and islet on the coast. He 
carried a geranium cutting in a little pot, hedged 
round with half a newspaper to shield it from the 
wind, and as the sun fell on the hills of " Argyle's 
bowling-green," broke out into a rhapsody, half 



158 A FISHERMAN 

born of whisky and half of that perfervidness 
which is the heritage of every Scot. 

"' There shall be no more sea,' no a wise like 
saying of John, though he was sort o' doited in 
Patmos; what had the body got against the 
sea?" 

" I followed it myself twal year. First in an 
auld rickle o' a boat, at Machrihanish, and syne 
wi* the herrin* fishers about Loch Fyne. Man, 
a gran' life the sea. Whiles I am sorry that I 
left it ; but auri sacra fames, ye mind. Nae mair 
sea! Set John up. But the mountains, the 
mountains, will remain. Thank the Lord for 
the mountains." 

No one responding to his remarks, he turned 
to me, observing that I looked an "eddicated 
man.' 1 

" Aye, ou aye, I mind I made a matter of five 
hundred pund at the herrin' fishin', and then, ye 
ken, I thocht I saw potentialities (gran* word, 
potentiality) of being rich, rich beyond the 
dreams of avarice, as that auld carle, Dr. Johnson, 
said. Johnson, ye ken, he that keepit a skule, 
and ca'ed it an academy, as auld Boswell said. 
A sort o' randy body yon Boswell, man, though 
he gied us a guid book. Many's the time I hae 



A FISHERMAN 159 

lauched over it. Puir, silly deevit, but with an 
eye untill him like a corbie for detail. Details, 
ye ken, are just the vertebrae of the world. Ye 
canna do without detail. What did I do ? Losh 
me, I had most forgot. Will ye tak* an apple ? 
It'll keep doun the drouth. Scotch apples are 
the best apples in the world, but I maun premise 
I like apples sour, as the auld leddie said. 

"Na weel, ye 1 re maybe right, apples are sort 
o' wersh without speerits. Bonny wee islands, 
yon Cumbraes, the wee yin just lik a dunter's 
heid, the big yin, a braw place for fishin*. 

" Whitin' Bay, ye ken, just beyond where the 
monument for they puir midshipmen stands. 
An awfu' coast, I mind three laddies, some five 
and thirty year syne, from up aboot England 
gaein* oot in a lugsail boat from the Largs. Ane 
o' they easterly haars cam* on. They just come 
doon like a judgment of God on this coast ye 
canna escape them, nor it. Aye weel, I'll no 
say no, a judgment, a special judgment o 1 divine 
providence, just fa's like a haar, fa's on the just 
and the unjust alike. Na, na, I'm no meanin' 
any disrespeck to providence, weel do I ken 
which side my bannock's buttered. . ... The 
laddies, the easterly wind just drave them aff the 



l6o A FISHERMAN 

coast, in a wee bit boatie, and had it no* been 
ane o' them was a sailor laddie, they would ne'er 
a* won back. Wondrous are His ways, whiles 
He saves those that never would be missed, and 
whiles. ... Do I no believe in the efficacy o* 
prayer. Hoots aye, that is I'm no sure. Whiles 
a man just works his knees into horn wi' prayin 1 
for what might profit him, that is, profit him in 
this world ye see, and providence doesna steer 
for a* his prayin'. Whiles a man just puts up a 
sipplication for some speeritual matter, and the 
Lord just answers him before the man is sure he 
wants the object of his prayer. 

"The Cumbraes, sort o' backlyin* islands, but 
the folk that live on them hae a guid conceit. 
Sort o* conceity, the bit prayer, the minister in 
Millport used to pit up for the adjawcent islands 
o 1 Great Britain and Ireland, ye'll mind it, ye 
that seem to be a sort o' eddicated man. 

"Yerlookin* at the bit gerawnium. Sort of 
tragical that gerawnium, if you regard the matter 
pheelosophically. I tell't you that I aince made 
a bit o' money at the herrin' fishin*. Shares in 
a boat or twa. Man, I was happy then, a rough 
life the fishin', but vera satisfyin*. Just an 
element o' gambling aboot it that endears it to 



A FISHERMAN l6l 

a man. Aye, ou aye, the sea, I ken it noo, I 
see why I lik't the life sac weel. I felt it then 
though, just like a collie dog feels the hills, 
although he doesna ken it. I always fancy that 
collies look kind o' oot o* place in Glesca, 

14 A collie dog, ye ken, would rather hear a 
West Hielandman swear at him in Gaelic than 
an English leddy ca 1 him a' the pets in the world. 
It's no his fault, it's no the swearin 1 that he likes, 
but just the tone o' voice. A gran 1 language the 
Gaelic, profanity in it just sounds like poetry in 
any other tongue. 

"Weel, a fisherman is just like a collie dog, 
he'd rather hear the tackle run through the 
sheaves o' the blocks than a* the kists o' whistles 
in the Episcapalian churches up aboot Edinburgh. 
And then the sea, dam't I canna tell why I still 
ettle to get back to it. It took ma fayther, maist 
o' ma brithers, and the feck o' a' ma folk. It's 
maybe that, it's the element o' uncertainty there 
again, but dam't I dinna right know what it is, 
except that when ye aince get the salt doon into 
the soul ye ken, ye canna get it oot again. That 
is, no' on this side the grave. I wouldna have 
left it, had it not been ma mither, threep, three- 
pin' on me ... aye, and the auri sacra fames. 

M 



1 62 A FISHERMAN 

" . . . Bonny the Largs looks, eh ? Gin its 
no the view of Cuchullin, the hills of Arran frae 
the Largs is the brawest view in Scotland. That 
is for a man that likes the sea. But I see I'm 
wearyin' ye wi' ma clash. Ye'd maybe like to 
see the Herald. ... I hae Bogatsky in my 
bawg ; Bogatsky's * Golden Treasury,' but may- 
be its no greatly read in your body. Fine old- 
fashioned book Bogatsky, nae taint o' latter-day 
Erastianism aboot it. Na, na, I'se warrant ye 
the man compiled Bogatsky gied his congrega- 
tion mony a richt shake abune the pit. Tophet, 
ye ken, the real old, what I might ca' the con- 
stitutional Tophet, before they hung thermo- 
meters aboot the walls, in case the temperature 
should gae ower high." 

The steamer, after plunging uneasily beside 
the pier at Largs for sufficient time to let a knot 
of drovers, each with his dog led by a piece of 
twine, and holding in their hands hooked hazel 
sticks, reel off towards the town, and to allow 
the passengers ( who did not mark it) space to 
view the beauties of the place, the little river 
brawling through the town, and the long bit of 
sea-swept grass on which goats pasture fixed to 
chains, and get a living on the scanty herbage, 



A FISHERMAN 163 

eked out with bottles, bones and sardine tins, 
turned eastward once again towards the Clyde. 

She ran past Fairlie, with its cliffs all clothed 
in oak and hazel copse. The passengers by this 
time being ' michtily refreshed," as was the 
chairman of the curling Club at Coupar- Angus, 
after his fifteenth tumbler, threw sandwich bags 
and bottles overboard, and took to dancing on 
the deck. The elders gathered into knots, 
talked politics, religion, or with much slapping 
of red hands upon their knees, enjoyed indecent 
tales, after the fashion of the Puritan, who 
though his creed enjoys a modest life, yet places 
no embargo on the speech. So it is said an 
Irishman in Lent, meeting a friend who re- 
marked that he was drunk, rejoined, " Sure, 
God Almighty never set a fast upon the drink." 

My philosophic friend and I watched the 
athletic sports, and when the lassies skirled as 
partners pinched them, or in the joy of life, which 
manifests itself in divers ways, and usually in 
some unseemly fashion when the two sexes 
meet, he wagged a moralising head, and freely 
poured out his philosophy. 

" Man Rabbie, . . . ye'll hae Burns . . . 
Rabbie kenned his countrymen. A fine, free, 

M 2 



164 A FISHERMAN 

fornicatin', pious folk we are. Man, Rabble 
kent us better than he kent himsel', I some- 
times think. Aye, ou aye, ye canna mak' a saint 
o' Rabbie. Saints, ye ken, are weel enough in 
books, but sort o' weary bodies to live wi', they 
must hae been, the feck o' them. I didna tell 
ye though aboot the bit gerawnium. I hae it 
in the cabin, for fear they cattle micht sit doon 
on it ; ye mind auld Walter Scott, the time he 
pouched the glass George IV. drank oot o', and 
then fair dang it into flinders on the road hame ? 
Kind o' weak o' Scott, pouchin' yon glass ; a 
bonny carle, yon George, to touch folk for the 
King's evil . . . but ou aye, the gerawnium, 
I mind it. 

" Ye see a* my potentialities of growing 
rich werena just realised. I wrocht twa year in 
Glesca, ane in Edinburgh, syne sax in Brig o' 
Weir, whiles takin' a bit flutter on the Stock 
Exchange. Rogues they fellies on the Exchange, 
ettlin' to mak' their siller without honest toil. 
Na, na ; I ken what ye're goin' to say if I had 
won, I wouldna' hae misca'ed them. Pairfectly 
reasoned, sir; but then ye ken when a man 
loses, the chap that get his siller is aye a rogue. 
Weel, weel, many's the time I wished masel 



A FISHERMAN 165 

back at Tobermoryin the bit boat, wi' the bonny 
wee-tanned lug, fishin', aye, fishin', like the 
Apostles. Weel, I ken why the Lord found 
His first followers amongst fishermen. Simple 
folk, ye see, and wi' the gamblin' element weel 
developed ; no like yer hinds slave, slavin' at 
the ground but oot upon the lake, yon sea of 
Galilee, ye mind ; a sort o' loch, just like Loch 
Fyne, as I ae thocht. When ye sit in the boat, 
keepin' her full and by, fechtin' the sea, your eye 
just glancin' on the waves, it kind o' maks ye 
gleg to risk a wee. Nae fears we'll get another 
preacher like the Lord ; but if we did, there 
wouldna be a fisherman, from Tobermory doun 
to the Cruives o' Cree that wouldna follow him. 
I'se warrant them. Dour folk, the fishers, but 
venturesome ; and a' the time I wrocht aboot 
thae stinkin' towns, I ettled to get back. I aye 
went aince a year to see our mither ; she just 
stops aboot twa mile west of Tobermory, and I 
aye tak back ane of they gerawniums in a pot. 
Why do I no stop there when I win back, ye 
say ? Aye, there's the mystery of it, the sort o' 
tragedy as I was tellin' ye when we cam through 
the Kyles. 
" Ye see ... spot yon lassie wi 1 the sun- 



1 66 A FISHERMAN 

set hair, ane o' the lang backit, short-leggit 
West Highland kind, built like a kyloe, just gars 
me think upon yon woman of Samaria . . . 
I'm haverin' . . , weel, the fack is I canna 
stop at hame. Tak' a West Hielan' stirk, and 
put him in a park, doon aboot Falkirk, or in the 
Lothians, and maybe, at the first, he doesna' 
thrive, misses the Hielan' grass maybe, and the 
gran' wind that blaws across the sea. Syne, he 
gets habeetuated, and if ye take him back to the 
north, maybe he couldna bide. That's just ma 
ain case, sir. 

" Weel do I mind the auld braw days ; a 
herrin' never tastes sae weel as just fresh caught 
and brandered in the boat. I mind yon seinin' 
too, sic splores we had, aye and a feck o' things 
come back to me when I am in the toon. The 
peat reek, and a' the comfortable clarty ways 
we had ; the winter nights, when the wind 
blew fit to tak' aff the flauchter feals o' the old 
cottage. I mind them a*. That is, I dinna care 
to mind." 

And as we talked, the steamer slipped past 
Wemyss Bay, left the Cloch Lighthouse on the 
left hand, and passed by Inverkip, slid close by 
Gourock, and then opened up the valley of the 



A FISHERMAN 1 67 

Clyde. Greenock with all its smoky chimneys 
rose in view, sending a haze of fog into the air. 
The timber in the ponds upon the shore surged 
to and fro against the railings as the steamer's 
swell lifted it slowly, and then settled down 
again to season in the mud. Dumbarton Rock 
showed dimly, and the river narrowed ; the fair- 
way marks showing the channel like a green 
ribbon winding through mud banks, as the 
vessel drew towards the pier. 

Gathering their packages and parcels, and 
smoothing out their clothes, the passengers 
passed down the gangway, laughing and push- 
ing one another in their haste to get away. 

The man with the geranium in the pot still 
lingered, looking back towards the sea. Then, 
gathering up his traps and tucking his umbrella 
underneath his arm, prepared to follow them. 

" Good-bye," he said, " we hae had a pleasant 
crack, I'll just be off and daunder up the toon. 
Doddered and poor, and a wee thing addicted to 
strong drink, strong drink, ye ken, speerits, that 
maketh glad the heart o' man ; neither a fisher 
nor a townsman, a sort o' failure, as ye may say, 
I am. Good-bye, ye seem a sort o' eddicated 
man. . . . Na, na, I will na drop it, never 



1 68 A FISHERMAN 

fear. I broacht it a' the way from Tobermory, 
and ye ken, sir, Greenock is no' a guid place for 
gerawniums after all." 

He stumbled out along the gangway plank, 
his rusty *' stan o' black " looking more storm- 
worn and ridiculous than ever in the evening 
sun. Holding his flower-pot in his hand, wrap- 
ped round with newspaper, he passed out of my 
sight amongst the crowd, and left me wondering 
if the flower in the pot would live, and he return, 
and die in Tobermory, by the sea. 



THE IMPENITENT THIEF. 

DIMAS orGestas, Gestasor Dimas, who can say 
which, when even monkish legends disagree? 

At any rate, one of the two died game. 

Passion o' me, I hate your penitents. 

Live out your life : drink, women, dice, mur- 
der, adultery, meanness, oppression, snobbery 
(by which sin the English fall); be lavish of 
others' money, and get thereby a name for gen- 
erosity. Bow down to wealth alone, discerning 
talent, beauty, humour (the most pathetic of all 
qualities), wit, courage, and pathos, only in gilded 
fools. 

Keep on whilst still digestion waits on appe- 
tite, and at the first advance of age, at the first 
tinge of gout, sciatica, at the first wrinkle, 
crow's-foot, when the hair grows thin upon the 
temples, the knees get " schaucle," when the 
fresh horse seems wild, the jolting of the express 
crossing the facing points makes you contract 



I7O THE IMPENITENT THIEF 

your muscles, and when all life seems to grow 
flat, stale, and unprofitable outside the library, 
forsake your former naughty life, and straight 
turn traitor on your friends, ideas, beliefs, and 
prejudices, and stand confessed apostate to your- 
self. For the mere bettering of your spiritual 
fortunes leaves you a turncoat still. It is mean, 
unreasonable, and shows a caitiff spirit, or im- 
paired intellect in the poor penitent who, to save 
his paltry soul, denies his life. 

Dimas or Gestas, whiche'er it was, no doubt 
some unambitious oriental thief, a misappro- 
priator of some poor bag of almonds, sack of 
grain, bundle of canes, some frail of fruit, camel's 
hair picket rope, or other too well considered 
trifle, the theft of which the economic state of 
Eastern lands makes capital, had given him bre- 
vet rank amongst the world's most honoured 
criminals, set up on high to testify that human 
nature, even beside a coward and a God, is still 
supreme. 

Perhaps again some sordid knave, whipped 
from the markets, an eye put out, finger lopped 
off, nose slit, ears cropped, and hoisted up to 
starve upon his cross as an example of the folly 
of the law, crassness of reason, to appease the 



THE IMPENITENT THIEF 1 71 

terrors of the rich, or, perhaps, but to exem- 
plify that Rome had a far-reaching arm, thick 
head, and owned a conscience like to that en- 
joyed by Rome's successor in the empire of the 
world. 

Dimas or Gestas, perhaps some cattle thief 
from the Hauran, some tribesman sent for 
judgment to Jerusalem, black bearded, olive in 
colour, his limbs cast like an Arab's, or a Kio- 
way's twisted in agony, his whole frame racked 
with pain, his brain confused, but yet feeling, 
somehow, in some vague way, that he, too, 
suffered for humanity to the full as much as did 
his great companion, who to him, of course, was 
but a Jewish Thaumaturgist, as his adjuration, 
" If thou be the Son of God, save us and thy- 
self," so plainly shows. 

And still, pethaps, impenitent Gestas (or 
Dimas) was the most human of the three, a 
thief, and not ashamed of having exercised his 
trade. How much more dignified than some 
cold-hearted scoundrel who, as solicitor, banker, 
or confidential agent, swindles for years, and in 
the dock recants, and calls upon his God to 
pardon him, either because he is a cur at heart, 
or else because he knows the public always feels 



172 THE IMPENITENT THIEF 

tenderly towards a cheat, having, perhaps, a 
fellow-feeling, and being therefore kind. 

I like the story of the Indian who, finding his 
birch canoe caught in the current, and drifted 
hopelessly towards Niagara, ceased all his pad- 
dling when he found his efforts vain, lighted his 
pipe, and went it, on a lone hand, peacefully 
smoking, as the spectators watched him through 
their opera glasses. 

And so perhaps this stony-hearted knave, 
whom foolish painters bereft of all imagination, 
have delighted to revile in paint, making him 
villainous in face, humpbacked, blind of one eye, 
and all of them drawing the wretched man with 
devils waiting for his poor pain-racked soul, as 
if the cross was not a hell enough for any act of 
man, may have repented (of his poor unsuccess- 
ful villainies) long years ago. He may have 
found no opportunity, and being caught red- 
handed and condemned to death, made up his 
mind to cease his useless paddling, and die after 
the fashion he had lived. This may have been, 
and yet, perhaps again, this tribesman, as the 
night stole on the flowers, the waters, and the 
stones, all sleeping, reckoned up his life, saw 
nothing to repent of, and thought the cross but 



THE IMPENITENT THIEF 173 

one injustice more. As gradually hope left his 
weakening body, he may have thought upon the 
folded sheep, the oxen in their stalls, the camels 
resting on their hardened knees, men sleeping 
wrapped up in their "haiks" beneath the trees, 
or at the foot of walls, mere mummies rolled in 
white rags, under the moonbeams and the keen 
rays of El Sohail. No one awake except himself 
and the two figures on his either hand, during 
the intolerable agony of the long hours, when 
jackals howl, hyenas grunt, and as from Gol- 
gotha, Jerusalem looked like a city of the dead, 
all hushed except the rustling of the palm trees 
in the breeze. Then may his thoughts have wan- 
dered to his " duar " on the plains, and in his tent 
he may have seen his wives, and heard them 
moan, heard his horse straining on his picket 
rope and stamping, and wept, but silently, so 
that his fellow sufferers should not see his tears. 

And so the night wore on, till the tenth hour, and 
what amazed him most was the continual plaint 
of Dimas (or of Gestas) and his appeals for 
mercy, so that at last, filled with contempt and sick 
with pain, he turned and cursed him in his rage. 

Repentance, retrospection, and remorse, the 
furies which beset mankind, making them sure 



174 THE IMPENITENT THIEF 

of nothing ; conscious of actions, feeling they are 
eternal, and that no miracle can wipe them out. 
They know they forge and carry their own hell 
about with them, too weak to sin and fear not, 
and too irrational not to think a minute of repent- 
ance can blot out the actions of a life. 

Remorse, and retrospection, and regret ; what 
need to conjure up a devil or to invent a place 
of torment, when these three were ready to our 
souls. Born in the weakness (or the goodness) 
of ourselves, never to leave us all our lives ; bone 
of our bone and fibre of our hearts ; man's own 
invention ; nature's revenge for all the outrages 
we heap upon her ; reason's despair, and sweet 
religion's eagerest advocates; what greater evils 
have we in the whole pack with which we live, 
than these three devils, called repentance, re- 
trospection, and regret ? 

But still the penitent upon the other side was 
human too. Most likely not less wicked in his 
futile villainy than his brother, whom history has 
gone out to vilify and to hold up as execrable, 
because he could not recognise a god in him he 
saw, even as he himself, in pain, in tears, and as 
it seemed least fit to bear his suffering, of the 
three. Repentance is a sort of fire insurance, 



THE IMPENITENT THIEF 175 

hedging on what you will an endeavour to be all 
things to all men and to all gods. 

Humanity repentant shows itself en deshabille, 
with the smug mask of virtue clear stripped off, 
the vizor of consistency drawn up, and the 
whole entity in its most favourite Janus atti- 
tude, looking both ways at once. The penitent 
on the right hand, whom painters have set forth, 
a fair young man, with curly golden hair, well 
rounded limbs, tears of contrition streaming 
from his eyes, with angels hovering around his 
head to carry off his soul, whom writers have 
held up for generations as a bright instance of 
redeeming faith duly rewarded at the last, was 
to the outward faithless eye much as his brother 
thief. 

Perhaps he was some camel driver, who, 
entrusted with a bag of gold, took it, and came 
into Jerusalem showing some self - inflicted 
wounds, and called upon Jehovah or Allah to 
witness that he had received them guarding the 
money against thieves. That which he said 
upon the cross he may have thought was true, and 
yet men not infrequently die, as they have lived, 
with lies upon their lips. He may have seen that 
in his fellow sufferer which compelled respect, 



1 76 THE IMPENITENT THIEF 

or yet again he may have, In his agony, defied 
the Jews by testifying that the hated one was 
king. All things are possible to him who has 
no faith. 

So, when the night grew misty towards dawn, 
and the white eastern mist crept up, shrouding 
the sufferers and blotting out their forms, the 
Roman soldiers keeping watch, had they looked 
up, could not have said which of the thieves was 
Gestas and which Dimas, had they not known 
the side on which their crosses stood. 



THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE. 

I KNEW a little village in the North of Ireland 
call it what you please. A pretty, semi-ruinous, 
semi-thriving place. In it men did not labour 
over much. All went easy (aisy the people 
called it) ; no man troubling much about the sun 
or moon ; still less bothering himself about the 
fixed stars or planets, or aught outside the vil- 
lage bounds. All about the place there was an 
air of half-starvation, tempered by half content. 
Few ever hurried ; no one ever ran. Each hedge 
was shiny, for the people had cut seats in them, 
which they called " free sates." The able-bodied 
occupied them all day long, for they served to 
prop men up as they discoursed for hours on 
nothing. Cows marched up and down the lanes : 
and sometimes children led them by a string, or, 
seated on the ground, they made believe to watch 
them as they ate, much in the same way, I 
suppose, that shepherds watched their flocks 

N 



1 78 THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 

upon the night the star shone in the East near 
Bethlehem, or as the people do in Spain and in 
the East to-day. Goats wandered freely in and 
out of all the houses. Children raggeder, and 
happier, and cunninger than any others on the 
earth, absolutely swarmed, and Herod (had he 
lived in those parts) could have made an awful 
battue of them, and they would not have been 
missed. Children, black-haired, grey-eyed, wild- 
looking, sat at the doors, played with the pigs, 
climbed on the tops of cabins, and generally 
permeated space, as irresponsibly as flies. 

Trees there were few. The people said the 
landlords cut them down. The landlords said 
the people never left a tree alone. However, 
let that pass. Creeds there were, two Catholic 
and Protestant. Both sides claimed to have 
a clear majority of sheep. They hated one 
another; or they said so, which is not the 
same thing, by the way. Really, they fur- 
nished mutually much subject of entertainment 
and of talk, for in this village no one really 
hated very much, or very long. All took life 
quietly. 

On the great lake folk fished lazily, and took 
nothing save only store of midge-bites. The 



THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 1 79 

roads were like pre-Adamite tracks for cattle : 
nothing but the cow of the country could cope 
with them ; and even that sometimes sustained 
defeat. Still, given enough potatoes, the people 
were not miserable ; far from it. Wages were 
low -but yet they were not driven like slaves, 
as is the artizan of more progressive lands. 

In the morning early, out into the fields they 
went, to while away the time and lounge against 
the miniature round towers that serve for gate- 
posts. 

Those who did not go out remained at home, 
and, squatting by the fire at ease, looked after 
their domestic industries, and through the "jamb- 
wall hole" kept a keen eye on foreign compe- 
tition, or on the passing girls and women, and 
criticised them freely as they passed. Still there 
was peace and plenty, of a relative degree. No 
factories, no industries at all, plenty of water 
power running to waste, as the Scotch agent 
said, and called on God to witness that if there 
were only a little capital in the town, it would 
become a paradise. What is a paradise ? Surely 
it is a land in which there is sufficiency for all ; 
in which man works as little as he can that is 
to say, unless he likes to slave which no one 

N 2 



l8o THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 

did, or he would have been looked on as a mad- 
man, in the village by the lake. Men reaped 
their corn with sickles, as their forefathers did, 
in lazy fashion, and then left the straw to rot. 
Agriculture was all it never should have been. 
Sometimes a woman and an ass wrought in one 
plough the husband at the stilts. 

Men were strong, lazy, and comfortable ; 
women, ragged, as lazy, and, when children did 
not come too fast, not badly off. The owner of 
the soil never came near the place. Patriot 
lawyers talked of liberty, and oppressed all 
those they got within their toils ; but still the 
place was happy, relatively. Those who did not 
like work (and they were not a few) passed 
through their lives without doing a hand's turn, 
and were generally loved. Any one who tried 
to hurry work was soon dubbed tyrant. Thus 
they lived their lives in their own way. 

If they were proud of anything, it was because 
their village was the birthplace of a famous 
hound. In my lord's demesne his monument 
is reared the glory of the place. Master Ma- 
grath after the Pope, King William, Hugh Roe 
O'Neill, or Mr. Parnell he seemed the greatest 
personage that ever walked the earth. " Him- 



THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE l8l 

self it was that brought prosperity amongst us. 
Quality would come for miles to see him, and 
leave their money in the place. A simple little 
thing to see him : ye had never thought he had 
been so wonderful. The old Lord (a hard old 
naygur !) thought the world of him. 'Twas here 
he used to live, but did his business (winning 
the Waterloo Cup) over on the other side." 
England seemed as vague a term as China to 
them, and quite as far removed. Master Magrath, 
the Mass, the Preaching, the price of cattle at 
the fairs, and whether little Tim O'Neil could 
bate big Pat Finucane these were the subjects 
of their daily talk. A peaceful, idle, sympathetic, 
fightingly-inclined generation of most prolific 
Celto-Angles or of Anglo-Celts. 

Agiotage, Prostitution, Respectability, Mo- 
rality and Immorality, and all the other curses 
of progressive life, with them had little place. 

Not that they were Arcadians ; far removed 
enough from that. Apt at a bargain, ready to 
deceive in little things. In great things, on the 
whole, " dependable " enough. Had there but 
been enough to eat, less rent to pay, one faith 
instead of two, a milder whiskey, and if the rain 
had cleared off now and then, the place had been 



1 82 THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 

about as happy as it is possible to be, here in 
this vale of tears. Little enough they recked 
of what went on in Parliament, upon the stock 
exchange, or in the busy haunts of men. 

Once in a way a Home Rule speaker spoke in 
the village hall. The folk turned out to cheer with 
all their might, and in a week or two an Orange- 
man came round, and, if possible, the cheers 
were louder than before. In fact, they looked 
upon the rival Cheap Jacks as travelling enter- 
tainments sent by Providence on their behalf. 

Except on Pitcairn's Island, Tristan d' Acunha, 
or in some group of islets in the South Seas 
before the advent of the missionaries, I doubt if 
anywhere men fared better on the whole. 

But still a change was floating in the air. 

One day a traveller from Belfast came to the 
village, and it struck him "What a place to 
build a mill ! Here there is water running all 
to waste, the land is cheap, the people vigorous 
and poor ; yes, we must have a mill" 

The priest and minister, the local lawyer, and 
the Scotch land-agent, all approved the scheme. 
All that they wanted was but capital. 

The want of capital is, and always has been, 
so they said, the drawback of the land. Had we 



THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 183 

but capital, we should be rich, and all become as 
flourishing as over there in England, where, as 
all know, the streets are paved with gold. 

Alas ! they never thought that on the golden 
pavements rain down floods of tears that keep 
them always wet, hiding the gold from sight. 
They never dreamt how the world crushes and 
devours those who leave little villages like this, 
and launch the vessel of their lives upon its 
waves. They could not see children perished 
and half-starved ; they did not know the smug 
sufficiency of commerce ; and had never heard 
the harlot's ginny laugh. Therefore, the pro- 
position seemed to them a revelation straight 
from God. Yes, build a mill, and all will turn 
to gold. The landlord will get his rents, the 
minister his dues, the priest his tithes, the 
working man, instead of being fed on butter- 
milk and filthy murphies, will drink tea (they 
called it lay] feast upon bacon, and white bread, 
and in due course will come to be a gentleman. 
Wages will rise, of course; our wives and 
children, instead of running bare-foot or sitting 
idle at the doors, will wear both shoes and 
stockings, and attend Mass or preachment 
" dacent," carrying their parasols, 



184 THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 

The syndicate of rogues, with due admixture 
of fools and dupes, was got together ; the mill 
was built. The village suffered a great and 
grievous change. All day long a whirr and whiz 
of wheels was heard. At daybreak a long string 
of girls and men tramped along the dreary 
streets, and worked all day. Wealth certainly 
began to flow ; but where ? Into the pockets of 
the shareholders. The people, instead of sturdy, 
lazy rogues, became blear-eyed, consumptive 
weaklings, and the girls, who formerly were 
patterns of morality, now hardly reached eighteen 
without an " accident " or two. Close mewing 
up of boys and girls in hot rooms brought its 
inevitable result. Wages did not rise, but on 
the contrary, rather inclined to fall ; for people 
flocked from the country districts to get employ- 
ment at the far-famed mill. 

The economists would have thrown their hats 
into the air for joy had not their ideas of thrift 
forbidden them to damage finished products, for 
which they had to pay, The goods made in 
the mill were quoted far and wide, and known 
for their inferior quality throughout two hemi- 
spheres. 

Yet still content and peace were gone. The 



THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 185 

air of the whole place seemed changed. No 
longer did the population lounge about the 
roads. No longer did the cows parade the 
streets, or goats climb cabin-roofs to eat the 
house leek. The people did not saunter through 
their lives as in the times when there was lack 
of capital, and therefore of advancement, as 
they thought. They had the capital ; but the 
advancement was still far to seek. Capital had 
come that capital which is the dream of every 
patriotic Irishman. It banished idleness, peace, 
beauty, and content ; it made the people slaves. 
No more they breathed the scent of the fields 
and lanes, but stifled in the mill. There was a 
gain, for savages who did not need them pur- 
chased, at the bayonet's point, the goods the 
people made. The villagers gained little by the 
traffic, and became raggeder as their customers 
were clothed. Perhaps the thought that savages 
wore on their arms or round their necks the 
stockings they had made, consoled them for 
their lost peaceful lives. Perhaps they liked the 
change from being wakened by the lowing of 
the kine, to the " steam hooter's " call to work 
in the dark winter mornings calling them out 
to toil on pain of loss of work and bread, and 



1 86 THE EVOLUTION OF A VILLAGE 

seeming, indeed, to say : " Work, brother ! Up 
and to work; it is more blessed far to work 
than sleep. Up ! leave your beds ; rise up ; get 
to your daily task of making wealth for others, 
or else starve ; for Capital has come ! " 



CASTLES IN THE AIR. 

YOUR castles in the air are the best castles to 
possess, and keep a quiet mind. In them no 
taxes, no housemaids, no men-at-arms, no 
larders bother, and no slavery of property 
exists. Their architecture is always perfect, 
the prospect of and from them always delight- 
ful, and, in fact, without them the greater part 
of humanity would have no house in which 
to shield their souls against the storms of life. 
It is prudent, therefore, to keep these aerial 
fortalices in good repair, not letting them too 
long out of our mind's eye, in case they vanish 
altogether into Spain. 

Good business men, and those who think that 
they are practical merely because they lack 
imagination, have maintained that castles such 
as these are but the creation of the brain, and 
that as fancy is but an exercise of the mind, its 
creations can have no existence in mere fact. 
To each man after his demerits ; to some day- 



1 88 CASTLES IN THE AIR 

books, ledgers, cash-boxes, and the entire armour 
of the Christian business man. Let them put 
it on, taking in their hands the sword of cove- 
tousness, having on their arms the shield of 
counterfeit, the helmet of double-dealing upon 
their heads, till they are equipped fully at all 
points to encounter man's worst enemy, his 
fellowman. Let them go forth, prevail, destroy, 
deceive, opening up markets, broadening their 
balances and their phylacteries ; let them at last 
succeed and build their stucco palace in Park 
Lane ; to them the praise, to them the just 
reward of their laborious lives ; to them blear 
eyes, loose knee joints, rounded backs, and 
hands become like claws with holding fast their 
gold. 

But let your castle builders in the perspective 
of the mind have their life, too ; let them pursue 
their vacuous way, if but to serve as an example 
of what successful men should all avoid. Buoys 
in safe channels, lighthouses set up on coasts 
where no ships pass ; preachers who preach in 
city churches where no congregation ever comes 
except the beadle, a deaf woman, and a child or 
two ; Socialist orators who do "Ye Men of 
England" to a policeman and an organ-grinder 



CASTLES IN THE AIR 189 

all have their uses, and may serve some day 
if coral insects build their reef, the " Flying 
Dutchman " should put in for rest, a shower fill 
the church, or men grow weary of the strife of 
parties, and why not those who dream ? They 
have their uses, too, because the castles that 
they build are permanent and suffer no decay. 
Tantallon, Hermitage, Caerlaverock, Warwick, 
and Kenilworth must crumble at the last, a heap 
of stones, grey ruined walls grown green with 
moss, and viper's bugloss springing from the 
crevices, some grassy mounds, a filled-up ditch 
to mark the moat, a bank or two to show the 
tilting ground, and a snug lodge, in which the 
lodge-keeper sits with gold-laced hat to take the 
tourists' sixpences to that favour must they all 
come, even if masonry be fathoms thick, mortar 
as hard as adamant, and the men who built 
have builded not on the modern system, but 
like beavers or the constructors of the pyramids. 
Your visionary castle, though, improves with 
time, youth sees its bastions rise, and each 
recurring year adds counterscarps, puts here a 
rampart or a mamelon, throws out a glacis or 
contructs a fosse, till middle age sees the whole 
fort impregnable. But as imagination commonly 



CASTLES IN THE AIR 

improves with years, old age still sees the castle 
untaken and entire ; and when death comes, and 
the constructor passes away to sleep beside the 
million masons of the past, young builders rise 
to carry on the work ; so that, considered justly, 
air is the best foundation on which a man can 
build ; so that he does not wish to see his ashlar 
scale, mortar return to lime, and to be bothered 
all his life with patching that which with so 
much pains in youth he built. The poor man's 
shelter in the frosts of life; the rich man's 
summer house, to which he can retire and ease 
himself of the tremendous burden of his wealth ; 
the traveller's best tent ; the very present refuge 
of all those who fail your visionary castle rears 
its head, defying time itself. 

Often so real is the castle in the air, that a 
man sells his own jerry-built, stuccoed mansion 
in the mud, to journey towards his castle, as 
travellers have sold their lands to see the deserts 
in which other people live. Think what a 
consolation to the outcast in the crowded street, 
on the wet heath, straying along the interminable 
road of poverty, to bear about with him a well- 
conceived and well-constructed dream house, 
pitched like the ark, inside and out, against not 



CASTLES IN THE AtR 

only weather, but the frowns of fortune a place 
in which to shelter in against the tongues of 
fools, refuge in which to sulk under the misery 
of misconception, half-comprehension, unintelli- 
gent appreciation, and the more real ills of want 
of bread for well the Spaniards say that every 
evil on God's earth is less with bread. 

How few can rear a really substantial castle 
in the clouds: poets, painters, dreamers, the 
poor of spirit, the men of no account, the easily 
imposed upon, those who cannot say No, the 
credulous, the simple-hearted, often the weak, 
occasionally the generous and the enthusiastic 
spirits sent into the world to shed as many tears 
as would float navies ; these generally are famous 
architects of other peoples' fortunes. They 
rear palaces set in the middle distance of their 
minds, compared to which the Alhambra, the 
Alcazar, the Ambraz, Windsor and Fontaine- 
bleau, and the mysterious palaces in Trapalanda, 
which the Gauchos used to say were situated 
somewhere in the recesses of the Andes, beyond 
the country of the Manzaneros, are heavy, over- 
charged, flat, commonplace, ignoble, wanting in 
all distinction, and as inferior as is the four- 
square house in Belgrave Square, just at the 



1 92 CASTLES IN THE AIR 

corner of Lower Belgrave Street, to an Italian 
palace of the rinascimento, or the old " Casa de 
Mayorazgo," in the plaza at Jaen. 

I read of such a master builder once in a 
newspaper. He was, I think, a mason, and 
whilst he worked bedding the bricks in lime, or 
underneath his shed hewing the stone with 
chisel and the bulbous-looking mallet masons 
use, the white dust on his clothes and powdering 
his hair, or on the scaffold waiting whilst the 
Irish hodman brought him bricks, he used to 
think of what some day he would construct for 
his own pleasure in the far off time when money 
should be made, wife found, house of his own 
achieved, and leisure to indulge his whims 
assured. Needless to say he was not of the 
kind who rise ; master and mates and fore- 
man used to call him dreamy and unpractical. 
His nickname was "The Castle Builder," for 
those who had to do with him divined his mind 
was elsewhere, though his hands performed their 
task. Still, a good workman, punctual at hours, 
hard working, conscientious, and not one of 
those who spend the earnings of a week in a few 
hours of booze at the week's end. Tall, fair, 
blue-eyed, and curley-haired, a little loose about 



CASTLES IN THE AIR 193 

the knees, and in the fibre of the mind; no 
theologian ; though well read, not pious, and 
still not a revoltc, thinking the world a pleasant 
place enough when work was regular, health 
good, hours not too long, and not inclined to 
rail on fortune, God, nature, or society for not 
making him a clerk. Things, on the whole, 
went pretty well with him ; during the week he 
worked upon the hideous cubelike structures 
which men love to build ; and Sunday come, he 
walked into the fields to smoke his pipe and 
muse upon his castles in the air. Then came 
an evil time lockout or strike, I can't remember 
which no work, plenty of time to dream, till 
money flew away, and the poor mason started 
on the tramp to look for work. Travelling, the 
Easterns say, is hell to those who ride, and how 
much more than hell for those who walk. I 
take it that no desert journey in the East, nor 
yet the awful tramp of the man who left afoot 
walks for his life, on pampa or on prairie, is com- 
parable in horror to the journey of the workman 
out of work. On the one hand the walker fights 
with nature, thirst, hunger, weariness, the sun, 
the rain, with possible wild beasts, with dangers 
of wild men, with loss of road ; sleeping he lies 

o 



194 CASTLES IN THE AIR 

down with his head in the direction he intends 
to take on rising, and rising tramps towards the 
point he thinks will bring him out ; and as he 
walks he thinks, smokes, if he has tobacco, takes 
his pistol out, looks at the cartridges, feels if his 
knife is safely in his belt, and has a consciousness 
that if all goes right he may at last strike houses 
and be saved. 

But on the other hand, the wanderer has 
houses all the way ; carriages pass by him in 
which sit comfortable folk ; children ride past on 
ponies, happy and smiling, bicycles flit past, cows 
go to pasture, horses are led to water, the shep- 
herd tends his sheep, the very dogs have their 
appointed place in the economy of the world, 
whilst he alone, willing to work, with hands 
made callous by the saw, the hammer, file, the 
plough, axe, adze, scythe, spade, and every kind 
of tool, a castaway, no use, a broken cogwheel, 
and of less account than is the cat which sits 
and purrs outside the door, knowing it has its 
circle of admirers who would miss it if it died. 

Oh, worse than solitude, to wander through a . 
thicket of strange faces, all thorny, all repulsive, 
all unknown; no terror greater, no nightmare, 
no creeping horror which assails you alone at 



CASTLES IN THE AIR 1 95 

night in a strange house, so awful as the un^ 
sympathetic glare of eyes which know you not, 
and make no sign of recognition as you pass. 
And so the mason tramped, lost in the ever- 
glade of men who, like trees walking, trample 
upon all those who have no settled root. At 
first, thinking a mason must of necessity be 
wanted, either to build or work amongst the 
stone, he looked for labour at his trade. Then, 
finding that wheresoe'er he went masons were 
plentiful as blackberries upon an autumn hedge, 
he looked for work at any trade, conscious of 
strength and youth and wish to be of use in the 
great world which cast him out from it as a lost 
dog, to stray upon the roads. 

Past villages and towns, along the lanes, by 
rivers and canals he wandered, always seeking 
work ; worked at odd jobs and lost them, slept 
under railway arches and in the fields, in barns 
and at the lea of haystacks, and as he went 
along he dreamed (though now more faintly) of 
his castles in the air. Then came revolt ; he 
cursed his God who let a workman, a stone- 
mason, starve, with so much work to do, stone 
to be hewn and houses built, churches to rear, 
docks to be made, and he alone it seemed to him, 



196 CASTLES IN THE AIR 

of all mankind, condemned to walk for ever on 
the roads. At last, tired of his God's and man's 
injustice, faint from want of food, and with his 
castle scarcely visible, he sat him down just on 
the brink of a black, oily river outside a manu- 
facturing town, the water thick and greasy, and 
at night looking like Periphlegethon, when iron- 
works belch out their fires and clouds of steam 
creep on the surface of the flood. 

And seated there, his feet just dangling in 
the noxious stream, the night-shift going to a 
factory found him, and as they asked him what 
he did, he murmured, " Castles, castles in the 
air," and rested from his tramp. 



Graham, Robert Bontine 
6013 Cunninghame 
R19S8 Success 



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